Like all government departments, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office produces a substantial volume of records on everything from major international events to day-to-day analysis. After a time, currently about 25 years, those records are transferred to the National Archives in Kew and become available to the public.
Before transfer, each record is carefully checked by our Sensitivity Review Service. The team’s work protects the UK’s relations with other countries, as well as our defence interests, the intelligence services, and the personal data of individuals, all within a legal framework.
If this isn’t what you had in mind, answer a few questions and we’ll find where you fit.
We have a strong sense of service to the public. We’re releasing what were previously protected government documents, so that the public can see how decisions were made and policy formed. This is important, and it feels good to be doing it.
Our Sensitivity Review Service team are based in Hanslope Park, Milton Keynes, with a few staff at King Charles Street, London.
A little myth-busting: we don’t block data because it’s embarrassing. We redact when it could cause real harm to UK interests or to individuals – and that’s a tiny part of the records we process.
Our team came together with private sector experts to implement artificial intelligence, supporting us to review digital FCDO files more efficiently than ever.
Alongside the training available to the wider FCDO Services team, we have a learning framework to help every colleague progress with job-specific skills, including:
Find out about overall training and benefits at Life at FCDO Services
Records are reviewed 20-30 years after they were made. That means we’re now hitting the mid-1990s – and an explosion in emails, texts, and soon, social media posts. What smart ways are there to deal with the exponential jump in the volume of Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office records? Let’s find out how the team stay ahead:
We’re developing new AI reviewing systems that can satisfy rigorous government security protocols, but which can also deal with the subtleties of human phrasing – picking up things like humour and idioms in diplomatic communications. Of course, we’d never want a fully automated service, but this new technology will give valuable support to our human reviewers.
The FCDO Services Innovation Lab works to develop technology that can make mammoth tasks easier – and we collaborate with our colleagues there to explore new techniques to help our team. Not only do ideas here help us provide a sophisticated service, but they help us cut costs for departments across Whitehall.
It’s not just historical documents – the Sensitivity Review Service also check for sensitive data in documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act.
The growth in digital records means this team will keep expanding to keep us at the cutting-edge and on top of the volume of work to be reviewed.
You’re ready to pitch in wherever you’re needed, learning about new subjects where you have to, to help the team maintain high standards amid changing priorities.
You’re reviewing material classified under the Official Secrets Act, so you have to be able to handle it with discretion.
Some of the details you’re dealing with could threaten lives if they were released: you have to be mindful of that, even though you want to release as complete a story as possible.
If you’re a reviewer, you’ll usually be a former diplomat, with insight and understanding of international diplomacy, of foreign countries and of what they consider important.
Want to join FCDO Services but can’t see a live role to suit you? Great news: you can sign up for job alerts or add your CV to our talent pool and we’ll be in touch when something comes up.