Did you know that almost 100 years ago a Royal Commission on Public Records, appointed to inquire into and report on the state of the public records and local records of a public nature of England and Wales, stated in their report:
“We see no good reason in principle for forbidding searchers to take copies at their own risk. The existing restriction rests merely on financial grounds and we think that it should be removed.”
So why are they still restricted now?
Guy Etchells, the man who is behind the push to get the 1911 Census released early, for which we are all eternally grateful, has now started an online petition asking for the UK’s civil registration records (BDM records, or as they say in the UK say “BMD records”) to be made open for public inspection, online and at local record offices. Sounds awesome doesn’t it?
Currently the main way that English and Welsh BDM records can be accessed is by certificates posted out by the General Register Office (GRO) – a process that costs £9.25 per certificate, and obviously takes time in the mail, anything from a few days to weeks.
According to Mr Etchells this whole process could be alleviated if historic registers were made available, as other historic records are, through the National Archives – as instant downloads. This move would take pressure off the department and enable them “to concentrate on the core task of recording and administering current registrations”.
He says that there is no doubt that a number of private companies would readily jump at the chance to digitise these historic registers and make the contents available to the public at no cost to the tax payer, and such a move would not only make the registers available 24 hours a day but would provide much needed funds (through licencing arrangements) to the government. A new accurate index of BMDs could be compiled by volunteers.
Revenue would be created for the County Record Offices or the National Archives swelling the government coffers. All at no cost to the taxpayer or government. And researchers get certificates cheaper and quicker.
It really is a WIN, WIN situation for everyone.
But this can’t be done alone, and Mr Etchells needs your help in making this become a reality. He has created a petition and is asking people to sign. But before heading straight off to that page right now, please check the details below.
Who is eligble to sign?
Unfortunately not everyone is able to sign this petition. But if you are a UK citizen, Ex-pat, or actually live in the UK you can sign this petition.
How you can help?
For those who fit into any of the the categories above, PLEASE SIGN THE PETITION, or write to your local MP (details here).
For everyone else, the best we can do is to spread the word as far and wide about this, in a bid to get more signatures.
Sign the Petition
For more information …
If you’d like to read more about this, please visit Guy Etchell’s website here.
These registers are your heritage
They are archived for your information
Please help to make it Easier and Cheaper to access them