Wednesday, 11 November 2009

1939 NHS 'census' to be made available in England and Wales

Heads up on some exciting breaking news!

Guy Etchells, the man who was responsible for obtaining the ruling from the Information Commissioner on the release of the English and Welsh 1911 census early, has been a busy man, and has now secured a ruling in his favour concerning the release of the 1939 'census', a record of the public made prior to the war as part of attempts to bring in a National Identity Card.

The enumeration was made on Friday 29th September, and is genealogically significant in England and Wales for two reasons - a) there was no 1941 census taken because of the war, and b) the English and Welsh census from 1931 was destroyed in a fire (unlike that for Scotland, which has survived). For more information concerning the 1939 enumeration, see A typical entry will note name, age sex, occupation, marital condition, residence, and whether involved with the armed or civil defence forces.

Guy has now contacted me to let me know that the Information Commissioner has ruled that access must now be granted by the NHS to the information for details in the census relating to people who were enumerated and who are now deceased. As it was not technically a census as such, it is not covered by the same rules covering the decennial censuses. Access will therefore be provided via a simple Freedom of Information request, which should cost in the region of about £10.

The ruling covers England and Wales only, but I had heard murmurings some time ago that the Scottish equivalent was being digitised, but have heard nothing for a very long time on this.

More news as it is officially released - and once again, a major round of applause for Guy Etchells, who once again looks like being this year's genealogical equivalent of 'man of the match'...!

UPDATE 12 NOV 09: The NHSIC has confirmed that it will be looking at the ruling to see whether it might appeal. If it intends to do so, it has 28 days to submit it.

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