Details on the automatic deletion of emails and policy: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

You asked for 'details on the automatic deletion [of emails] policy'.


This request relates to a follow up response to your request (reference 202000016462) for information relating to Scottish Sea Farms. Part of the response to that request was an email chain, containing an email with an attachment – a veterinary decision statement – which had been deleted before your request was made. We subsequently told you that this email and attachment were automatically deleted by the Scottish Government email management system. On further investigation, this was a misunderstanding between the staff involved, and the original email with the attachment in question was deleted prior to your request being made, but not automatically.

Staff are expected to manage their own email inboxes and shared inboxes and actively file or delete emails appropriately. Emails that have corporate value are filed in the Scottish Government’s electronic records management system, and this is routinely searched when responding to FOISA/EIRs requests. Other emails are deleted once they have been actioned. In this case, the necessary information was recorded in the relevant case sheets and the attachment was not retained, in accordance with the business need.

You asked for details of the auto deletion policy. In addition to individual email management, all Scottish Government email inboxes are scanned by a system called Enterprise Vault to determine which mail messages are older than 60 days. Any such messages are moved to a vault created for each individual for archived messages. Any mail vaulted within these areas are retained for 1 year from date of archive then deleted from Enterprise Vault and Scottish Government systems.

The following is an extract from user guidance for the SG electronic records management system - "Enterprise Vault will scan your mailbox (Inbox, Sent Items etc.), determine which mail messages are older than 60 days, and move these items to a vault specifically created for you to store your archived messages. In Outlook, the original message is replaced by a shortcut to the original message, now stored in your Vault. Any mail vaulted within these areas are retained for 1 year from date of archive then deleted from Enterprise Vault."

Further detail on the retention of Scottish Government information may be found in our records management plan, which is published on the Scottish Government website -

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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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