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Thread: Boards of Enquiry

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    Default Boards of Enquiry

    Does anybody know how to get hold of the results of a board of enquiry into second world war accidents? I have the crash cards and have even managed to squeeze the initial accident reports out of the Air Historical Branch (Not an easy task, but correct use of FOI Act produced results). However, the actual findings of the board seem difficult to locate, once I know where they are I'm hopeful that I will be able to get them released.

    Thanks in advance


    Gary

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    Gary

    Sorry can't help - But I and prehaps others would be very interested in the 'correct use' (i.e hops to jump through and short cut therin) of FOI Act to get information from AHB

    Prehaps you could post here or the other forum

    Thanks

    Paul
    Last edited by paulmcmillan; 12th March 2008 at 11:14.

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    Default Boards of Enquiry

    Gary
    There are a lot of AIB papers in AVIA 5 at Kew. I know that they include a lot of investigation/interview reports eg by police etc but I do not recall if they include formal papers from Boards of Enquiry.
    Steve

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    Paul,

    The main issue as far as the AIB is concerned is the release of personal information. However, they tend to use this as a catch-all when refusing requests for information. I found that being very specific about the forms I wished to see and specifically stating that I did not require personal information seemed to work.

    A rather frustrating aspect of what they send is that they redact large parts of it. Usually, there would be no way of verifying what has been taken out. However on a number of occassions I have received the same form from Canada and I can only descibe what has been redacted as totally random, indeed on a number of occassions the key reason behind the accident has been taken out.

    Other things worth pointing out are:

    Accident reports to modern aircraft are released by the MOD immediately, why not WW2?

    The Data Protection Act does not apply to those that are deceased.

    But most of all, be very specific about the information you request. Don't forget if they refuse your requst, they must tell you why and you can appeal to an onbudsman.

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    I fail to see the reason for using a FOI on anything but an enquiry on your own relative.

    Is the release of information for a hobby/research worth so much to us that we would desire the defence budget to be spent on it.

    I can think of many more items for front line troops that I would rather see the money spent on.

    If you feel that you must use the FOI route then why not pay for the clerks time to answer it out of your own pockets.

    Rant over.

    Ross

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    Ross,
    Not rant - sound common sense!
    Perhaps if more AHB data were transferred to TNA (where the costs of research are known) it might ameliorate the problem slightly?
    HTH
    Peter Davies

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    Ross,

    I'm really surprised at your reaction, the AHB exists for no other purpose than to answer such queries. As such, if these questions were not asked, the branch would cease to exist! The personnel employed at AHB (To the best of my knowledge) are not employed in any frontline duty, nor are they likely to be.

    There are many reasons why such information is valuable in the public domain especially as time passes and there are fewer veterans from which to gain first hand accounts, paper records are going to form a large part of how the second world war is viewed 100-years from now.

    There would be no need to use the FOI Act if the AHB had a similar policy to the RCAF and such information was available freely.

    Believe me, I am only too aware of the constraints on the defence budget and I am certain that such requests have no impact on it. My motives are not idle curiosty, but to ensure that a part of RAF history is told accurately and is accessable to the wider public

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    Gary,

    The AHB staff are paid from the purse of the MoD. They are not funded by the MoD as a purely public research facility, this facility is only a minor part of their function and cannot be described as their only purpose.

    The purpose of the AHB is outlined on the RAF Web site:

    >
    The Air Historical Branch (RAF) is a small working department of the UK Ministry of Defence. It seeks to maintain and preserve the historical memory of the RAF and to develop and encourage an informed understanding of RAF and air power history by providing accurate and timely advice to Ministers, the RAF, other government departments and the general public. The Branch is not a public record depository, but maintains a substantial archive of classified policy and operational documents, which are normally declassified after thirty years and transferred to the Public Record Office. The Branch also holds an index of RAF casualties from 1939 onwards, aircraft accident record cards dating from the inter-war years, and a photographic archive.
    >

    Time spent on answering public questions is funded from the defence budget as a whole. Recently the AHB has declined to answer questions from relatives due to lack of staff time.

    I for one would be mortified if a FOI ploy to get research for a private collection denied this service for others.

    Ross

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    Default The role of AHB

    Ross

    Like Gary, given the spirit of RAF Commands, I am VERY surprised at your negative reaction to his post/comments.

    It seems to me Gary has not used the FoI Act in a way that has caused any waste or redirection of defence budgets away from the frontline all he has done is called their bluff. If you want to pursue that argument then there are probably several thousand civilian jobs in the MoD that could easily be scrapped in the next 24 hours in order to release resources for our brave people in uniform.

    You are probably correct in arguing that there is a shortage of resources in MoD/AHB to provide a full response to public enquiries. But, in my view, there is no question that the FoI Act is being used by AHB as a way of trying to deflect or reject what are legitimate enquiries (by taxpayers!).

    I feel very strongly that the current arrangements around access to the AHB archives appear to be a disgrace.

    Firstly much of the information, especially about WW2, that is currently held “secretly” under the protection of the FoI Act by AHB and the RAF/MoD Personnel Depts is available freely to all enquirers (relative or not) in Canada and can be made freely accessible on the internet in Australia. As I think I have said before on this board I cannot believe that the FoI Act in Canada or Australia is much different from that in the UK.

    Secondly it is clear, to me, that there is a group of established RAF history authors and current or recently retired RAF officers, who are now writers, who are given free access to the AHB archives which is not available to anybody who does not have an established research or publishing record (and who is a taxpayer).

    As Peter Davies said or implied there is probably nothing in the AHB from the WW2 period that could not be made available through the National Archives at Kew. The only thing that is at stake is an Air Commodore post and all the trappings that go with it.

    Steve
    Last edited by SteveBrooking; 12th March 2008 at 20:54.

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    Ross,

    The underlying fact is that the AHB is established to deal with queries from the general public and it is staffed so to do. If it can not meet its obligations then someone needs to address the situation. This is not a fault of members of the public (taxpayers in the main, I would suggest) who expect them to do do what it says on the tin. The FOI Act was introduced by HMG in order to allow a more open system of Govt and a better functioning democracy. It is intended to be used by anybody who wishes it and IMHO, should be.

    My boys and I deploy to Afghanistan with 16 Air Assault Bde, for what I assume will be a testing 6 months, in 3 weeks time. If anyone can comment on the issue of funding and kit it is the blokes who will be using it in theatre. Despite the normal soldierly gripes, I have no undue concerns in this area.

    Kind regards

    Jonny

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