Creating a Chain of Custody for Your Documents
December 7, 2017
Posted by JD Stride

However your organisation in Melbourne stores important or confidential information, you need processes in place to keep that information secure while it’s in use. Information travels from person to person and place to place all the time. In itself, this isn’t a problem, but if you have no way of tracking your paper or digital documents all kinds of problems can arise.

A well-documented chain of custody will help you keep track of where your valuable information is at all times, so you’ll see who has handled your documents and for how long.

Why a Chain of Custody for Documents Is Important

A thorough chain of custody for all important documents will help you to:

  • Prevent or trace the unauthorised alteration of information
  • Track amendments to documents
  • Keep records of the chronological history of documents and digital files
  • Identify individuals who had documents at different times
  • Trace how data has been used and modified
  • Ensure security, integrity, and confidentiality of information
  • Maintain control over your documents

How to Create a Document Chain of Custody

For paper documents, the simplest way to create a chain of custody is with custody forms that each person who accesses the document has to fill out. This form should include all the information you’ll need to track the document properly:

  • Name of the document or file
  • A description of the document
  • Name of the person collecting the document
  • Employee ID number/s
  • Their contact information and their organisation
  • Date and time the document was retrieved
  • Detailed information about any intermediaries who take possession of the document, such as couriers and secretaries

Electronic documents are best tracked using specialised software programs that help establish a chain of custody. Other important steps to maintain the integrity of digital files are:

  • Designating a server or hard drive where the original file lives
  • Grant access to copies of the file rather than this original – any authorised modifications can then be updated and tracked in the original file
  • When appropriate, mark documents as read-only so that those accessing them can’t modify, edit, or delete them

Tracking Documents during Transportation

Maintaining chain of custody processes while your documents are in transit may be even more important than your internal tracking. When choosing a company to transport your documents, be sure to check the following:

  • Will they use a secure, traceable vehicle?
  • Are drivers and other employees given thorough and regular background checks?
  • Do they have adequate security and monitoring systems?
  • Do vehicles include fire detection and suppression systems?
  • How will they help you track documents?
  • Are they willing to sign binding non-disclosure agreements?

Chain of Custody at a Document’s Funeral

Tracking your document should continue right up until document destruction. A professional shredding service should ensure your document remains secure at all points from your location to their document destruction facility. Once the information in the document is thoroughly erased from existence they should also provide you with a certificate of destruction to close out your chain of custody.

For more information on confidential document destruction or to book your services today, contact In Confidence online today!