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Sensitivity Review Service

Like all government departments, the Foreign and Commonwealth 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.

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Key roles in the area

  • Sensitivity Reviewers
  • Digital Records Operations Managers
  • Digital Archive Assistants
  • Service Desk professionals
  • Digital Data Scientists
  • Microfiche Digitisation specialists
  • Quality Assurance specialists

Hear from one of the team

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. 

Sensitivity Review Service colleague

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.

Case studies

Want to learn more about the work we do? Have a look at our case studies and explore the impact of our projects – and the diverse skills that come together to make it all happen.

Learning and development

Alongside the training available to the wider FCO Services team, we have a learning framework to help every colleague progress with job-specific skills, including:

  • IT skills, finance and business training for the Service Desk
  • Targeted tech skills for the Digital Archive Assistants

Find out about overall training and benefits at Life at FCO Services 

Did you know?

Historical content reviewed by the Sensitivity Reviewers can be as wide-ranging as it is world-changing.
Right now, reviewers are looking at records of the Lockerbie disaster, the first Gulf War, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. You’re exploring documents that offer real insight on world history – and preserving national security at the same time.

Staying ahead of the curve in the Sensitivity Review Service

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 and Commonwealth 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 FCO 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.

What do I need to thrive here?

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1. Team spirit

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.

2. Absolute discretion

You’re reviewing material classified under the Official Secrets Act, so you have to be able to handle it with discretion.

3. Respect for the material

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.

4. Diplomatic understanding

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.

Latest roles

Want to join FCO 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.

Senior Engineer Infrastructure Operations – Monitoring

Hanslope Park
£38,485 – £49,011 + £1,750 location allowance and excellent benefits

Senior Engineer Infrastructure Operations – Virtualisation/VMWare

Hanslope Park
£38,485 – £49,011 + £1,750 location allowance and excellent benefits