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Thread: UK Disclosures

  1. #1
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    Default UK Disclosures

    I know this has been discussed at length in previous posts so sorry for going over the same ground again.

    A few years back I seem to remember a post stating Innsworth/Cranwell will disclose certain details of Airmen at no cost and without having to provide any next of kin details.

    Is this still the case?

    I have quite a number of Airmen where I have name and service number but would like to know date/place of birth so I can do my genealogy bit.

    Will they release these details to me? Do I have to send a letter in for each request or can I send them a list of Airmen in one go?

    Sorry for all the questions.

    Simon

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    Basically Simon the answer is no. A few years ago I had a couple of contacts there and sending a name and service number, they gave me date and place of birth, and sometimes a transcript of postings and promotions of a large number of men. Then the contacts went. I did have pemission to get copies of my last five records for free providing I had NoK permission. In the case of the last one, it took five years to trace a relative and get the permission, only to be told 'Sorry, its 30.00'.

    I explained that I had been allowed the last records (of a major project) for free but it cut no ice at all. At the time I objected to paying 30.00, although I had saved a great deal of money beforehand. Six months later I decided to get the record and was sent one sheet of photocopy, and a transcript of some brief details that are contained on the other side of the sheet. When I questioned this, I was told that in that six months the rules had changed and for the 30.00 (which is a search fee only, they guarantee to find nothing) they were now only allowed to send a copy of the record showing postings and promotions, with much of the rest of the record off limits. As such only certain details will be given, and in the form of a letter with the salient details.

    In another case prior to this, the airman himself wrote giving me permission to have a copy of his service record but they refused. It was either a case of sending it to me (two sheets of photocopy) for 30.00, or sending it to him direct for him to send on to me. Thankfully he was okay with this, but it was all rather pathetic.

    The Canadians allow access to pretty much everything either in person, or by photocopy/post if you are prepared to wait, the Australians will put a copy online for about 15 (which can be 70 or 80 pages), and the New Zealanders will copy an entire record, right down to marriage certifictes and attestation papers (if the airman is deceased) for free. It makes the MoD look prehistoric.

    It annoys me as they could raise a lot of money and make a lot of us happy but a more general release of information that will otherwise sit there doing nothing.

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    I paid the 30 for the double sided sheet you speak about, when I applied for my uncle's service record on behalf of my father, and a very poor bargain I thought it. I had all the details to give them, so I can't see what searching could possibly have been involved to justify such an exorbitant price for two photocopies. When a government sends a man to a war that gets him killed, you'd think his elderly brother and sister would be entitled to a free copy of his records.

    That said, I am curious to know what other information may be on the service file that they have not given us. Any observations?

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    Having obtained a grand total of 12 service records (all at 30 GBP a time), I can confirm that there is now no flexibility in the system. The paucity of information provided is a continual bug bear; especially when the British Army (through the Army Personnel Centre in Glasgow) currently provide photocopies of the actual service records (with some redaction) rather than the heavily redacted photocopies and transcriptions the RAF provide. When I queried this, the RAF stated that the army are considerably busier than the air force and don't have time to adopt the same method. Remarkable!

    The only piece of free information provided to me by the system, was confirmation of medal entitlement.

    I also have several copies of a full service record - or to be more precise what is left in the files of personnel after personnel files were weeded post war. The additional details are what would expect to find. NoK details, courses, home address, disciplinary action etc. The RAF have not disclosed these to me. They were given to me by other interested parties, who appear to have obtained them through 'contacts' and against established disclosure regulations.

    The only observation I would make, is one that is based on my experience of being a long serving member of HMF. I have encountered fellow researchers and interested parties who feel that it is their right to see service records of military folk. Even with the passage of time, or even after I am long gone, I would not be comfortable with the thought of giving a stranger (or certain members of my family!) access to the entire contents of my personnel file - with all of my personal details, course results, disciplinary record (if I had one) etc. Serving my country does not mean my country can rummage through my life story, without clear rules as to what they can get their hands on.

    Rgds from a chilly Kabul

    Jonny
    Last edited by jonny; 3rd February 2011 at 06:11. Reason: More thoughts
    In fond memory of Corporal James Oakland AGC (RMP), killed in action in Afghanistan on 22 October 2009. Exemplo Ducemus.

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    Airman1,

    "the Australians will put a copy online for about 15"

    You probably meant AU$, not pounds sterling?

    From the National Archives of Australia website:

    If you order an online copy:

    an image of each page of the record will be made available for public viewing in our online collection database, RecordSearch
    we will notify you by email (if you have provided an email address) when an online copy is available for viewing.
    The cost of an online digital copy is:

    AU$16.50 (including GST) for purchases within Australia
    AU$15 (GST-free) for purchases made outside Australia
    Colour print copy
    If you order a colour print copy:

    a colour print copy of the record will be mailed to you in a presentation folder, and
    at no additional cost, an online copy of the record will be made available for public viewing in our online collection database, RecordSearch.
    The cost for a colour print copy is:

    AU$25 (including GST) for purchases within Australia
    AU$28 (GST-free) for purchases made outside Australia

    One can just imagine the reaction from the seat-warming authorities of the British MoD if one had the termerity to suggest to them that the should provide copies from their records in a 'presentation folder'!

    Errol

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    A bit of both Errol! 15.00 - ish if talking about a colour copy (I think to be exact its about 17.00 currently) or A$15.00 for the online. Well worth it, and puts the MoD to shame.

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    Thanks for everybodys responses.

    Things seem to be getting worse rather than better then, I was afraid of that. Its a pity my interest lies with an RAF Sqn and not RCAF etc.

    As a former member of HMF I would agree to some extent with Jonny although I doubt if anyone would be at all interested in seeing my file!!!!! :)

    Regards,
    Simon

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    Servicemen are paid by taxpayers, and it is taxpayer's right to know, where and how the money are spend. Therefore the right to see any records of the people employed by any public service. The death census protects the privacy rights very well, but it does not mean, those records should not be revealed prior to the date, especially if those persons are of public interest. Mind you, that privacy protection is a fiction to large degree, and actually does not exist.
    Anyway, the records we are talking about do not contain any information that could be considered sensitive. It is just a record of postings and awards of a particular serviceman, I must note often essential in research.
    I suggest to take a legal action in Brussels.

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    Right you all have spent 8 posts bitching about the same situation that has been covered countless times both here and elsewhere.

    Nothing has changed because of this or any other thread here.

    Thread closed as a waste of forum space.

    Ross
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