GRO Birth, Marriage, Adoption and Death Index's should be online and accessible to all

Christina made this Freedom of Information request to General Register Office

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Dear General Register Office,

Please could your GRO Index's be made available online or sent to more libraries (perhaps as a shared online database)? I do not understand why after 2006 you are only able to view these Index's at one of seven libraries and only on microfiche.

Surely having marriages, births, adoptions and some 2019 deaths only available on microfiche is discriminatory? If you are dyslexic or blind etc. using the microfiche is next to impossible. Secondly, if you are unable to afford the travel expenses to get to these certain libraries, many simply cannot make the journey. This means that you are excluding members of the public from accessing information that should be easily accessible. This information is not accessible for all. Staff at these libraries will not conduct the searches for you and are often not particularly helpful when it comes to assisting members of the public with how to conduct these searches. Microfiche are often left in a mess, not put back properly and regularly stolen.

In the current climate due to COVID-19, libraries are closed and we do not have access to these Index's. I have contacted all 7 libraries and when they do reopen most are not intending to provide access to the GROs Index's.

This not only impacts members of the public, but also working professionals who need access to these records to effectively do their jobs. Lawyers, social workers, genealogists etc. are unable to finish their work and close cases because they cannot get access to these Index's. This therefore impacts the economy on a much larger scale as hospital staff need to clear morgues, social services cant locate and pass on information to next of kin and solicitors cant locate family to sort out Probate.

These problems would all be solved if you would make the records online. There is no difference from me going into the British library and taking a picture of a 2019 microfiche, to me viewing it online- so why cant this be done?

It the very least please provide the microfiche to more libraries across the country or to businesses that can prove they need access to these Index's (e.g genealogists).

I look forward to hearing from you.
Yours faithfully,
Christina

FOI, General Register Office

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GROLRS Engagement,

Dear Christina,

 

Thank you for your enquiry. Your request has been handled as official
correspondence rather than as a request for information under the Freedom
of Information Act 2000. This does not mean that your enquiry has been
actioned any differently or that the information provided contains any
less content or detail.

Background

Under the Registration Acts the General Register Office (GRO) is obliged
to compile a national index of all registration events for England and
Wales. The same legislation provides that the public should have free
access to this index in order to assist them in purchasing certified
copies of entries. Up until recently we have made the indexes available at
seven locations around England and Wales but we are progressing in making
more indexes available online. More information can be found on the GOV.UK
website - [1]https://www.gov.uk/research-family-history

Online Indexes available from GRO

A number of our indexes are available to search online for free. Online
indexes are available for: birth records from 1837 up to 100 years ago,
and 1984 up to 2004; and death records from 1837 to 1957, and 1984 up to
the current year. We are currently identifying a rolling programme to put
more of our indexes online and we will notify you via our website when any
new indexes are added. Further details can be found on our website in the
FAQ’s section, Customer Guide No.11 - GRO online birth and death indexes
overview -
[2]https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certi...

You can view GRO’s birth, death and marriage indexes online via other
websites, e.g. [3]https://www.freebmd.org.uk, where they are available to
view free of charge up to 1983.

Why have you chosen to not publish all the indexes online?

The online index has been created from the records and indexes GRO already
has digitised. During our initial digitisation project over 140 million
records were captured, namely the birth records from 1837 to 1934 and the
death records from 1837 to 1957; this is approximately half of the total
number of GRO records of birth, marriage and  death. We are currently
identifying a rolling programme to put more of our indexes online and we
will notify you via our website when any new indexes are added. You can
view GRO’s birth, death and marriage indexes online via other websites,
e.g. FreeBMD, where they are available to view free of charge up to 1983.

 

COVID-19

 

COVID-19 has presented challenges for everyone and we continue to work
with our partners across England and Wales to ensure that our services are
made fully available as soon as possible following such unprecedented and
extenuating circumstances.

 

We hope that this information is helpful.

 

Regards

 

People and Engagement
Civil Registration
Her Majesty's Passport Office,
General Register Office, Smedley Hydro, Trafalgar Road, Southport, PR8 2HH

Tel: 0300 123 1837
E: [4][email address]
[5]www.gov.uk

 

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References

Visible links
1. https://www.gov.uk/research-family-history
2. https://www.gro.gov.uk/gro/content/certi...
3. https://www.freebmd.org.uk/
4. mailto:[email address]
5. http://www.gov.uk/