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Document classification

We need to make sure all our documents are properly classified in order to keep them safe.

That's why we have a policy that makes sure we're all properly managing, handling, storing and classifying information. This includes electronic information, written information and information shared by other means such as telephone conversations or video conferences.

The policy

All our 'information assets' (an asset is any function, equipment or information that has value to the authority) must now be classified into one of 3 categories:

  • restricted
  • controlled
  • public

This means that any documents, files or information you create must be clearly labelled with one of the categories to make sure that everyone knows its classification and how it can be used, viewed and shared.

The classifications

Restricted - information which, if disclosed (even within the authority) would cause serious damage in terms of financial loss, legal action or loss of reputation.

Controlled - information that is generally available to anyone in a certain area of the authority and which contains business value to the organisation or requires protection due to personal data.

Public - information that can be made freely available in the public domain and would not cause damage or harm if released.

Examples of the types of documents that fall into each classification

Restricted - adoption records, child protection records, disciplinary records, social care files with local restrictions, trading standards court proceedings.

Controlled - social care information not in restricted, business continuity plans, IT procedures, personnel files, contracts, council exempt papers, commercially sensitive files.

Public - office opening times, business numbers, press releases, policies and procedures, forms, minutes, statistics and performance indicators, employment information, trading standards judgements.

Marking a document with its classification

There are several ways that a document can be marked with its classification.

It can be tagged with classification metadata from EDRM, have the classification pre-populated from a template, or the document author can add the classification status manually to the header of a document.

Any information that falls into the restricted or controlled categories must be clearly labelled as such in the header of each document.

Even if your document has been electronically marked by EDRM you must still manually apply a restricted or controlled marking as a header on your documents.

Any information that is printed off without a restricted or controlled header will be classed as public.

Removable media such as CDs or DVDs should be marked as controlled or restricted either on the label or in permanent ink on the surface.

When information of varying classifications is grouped together, the highest classification should be applied to all information in the group.

When a document stops being active and is moved to the record office for archiving, its classification status will be reviewed by departmental staff before it is transferred.

Handling, movement and storage of information

There are rules about how certain types of information can be used, viewed, stored and sent to other people.

This particularly relates to controlled and restricted information.

This is all clearly covered in the policy so please take time to read it thoroughly.

Storage of information

Public - this information does not require specific safe storage or access restrictions.

Controlled - if information is removed from the council for use by home workers it must not be left in vehicles or in public places. Information must be in a lockable area in the employee's home that cannot be accessed by anyone else.

Restricted - this is sensitive information and access must be severely restricted. It must be securely locked away at the end of each day and never left on show. This applies to information on paper, disk, tapes, faxes, post.

For more in-depth information on classification, handling and storage of documents please see the 'Information Classification and Handling Policy' and the 'Information Classification and Handling Procedures' attached to this page.