It seems that most of our electronic communications automatically generate a record that we are able to capture – if we so choose – and manage in a records management system. It is now possible to implement procedures that capture and manage Instant Messages, web pages, and contributions to social media. But what are we doing about telephone conversations? Some industries routinely either record specific telephone calls or maintain a log or note of such calls and these become business records just like any other transactional record. The recent Barclays LIBOR scandal that has hit the City of London demonstrates the need to have a consistent policy, for the policy to be documented and for the policy to actually be followed by staff. Here is a transcript of the initial conversation between Paul Tucker, Deputy Governor of the Bank of England and the Treasury Committee (acknowledgement to parliament website):
Q320 Chair: Good afternoon, Mr Tucker. Thank you very much for coming to give evidence, and we are in fact responding to a specific request from you to do exactly that at the earliest opportunity. I note in the pieces of paper that have come through to us this morning that the Bank of England does not hold its own records or transcripts of any of these phone conversations. Why not?
Paul Tucker: I think many of these records do come from the Bank of England, but we have had to pull them together and check that we have got a complete set.
Q321 Chair: Do you keep records of your phone conversations?
Paul Tucker: We certainly keep records of all phone conversations where a note has been taken. The conversation with Bob Diamond was not a conversation that I made a note of or a private secretary made a note of. Sitting here, I greatly wish there were a note of it. The reason is these were completely extraordinary times where many of us, not only I, were rushing from meeting to meeting and making an enormous number of calls, taking an enormous number of calls, and it would be wrong to suggest otherwise than that the routine system of recording things was creaking.
Q322 Chair: So you did customarily record all your phone conversations?
Paul Tucker: In the normal course of business, we would make a note of material telephone conversations, yes.
Q323 Chair: Has there been any internal review of what went wrong here?
Paul Tucker: In terms of keeping a note of this conversation?
Chair: And the handling of this whole issue.
Paul Tucker: Not yet. It is something that I think we will come back to in due course when times are calmer again. We are still living through pretty well crisis conditions.
Few of us will ever be in a situation where we are giving evidence before a parliamentary committee, but we may well be in a situation where business conducted by telephone should rightly have been documented and those records incorporated into our standard records management programme.