Chain of custody is essentially the history of a document’s movements and ownership. It keeps track of who currently possesses a particular document and where it is located. Anytime this document is moved, retrieved, or stored, there should be a record of the changes. The chain of custody records may seem irrelevant once the document is sent for destruction, however, it is crucial to maintain a record of the documents throughout the entire shredding process to avoid any complications in the future.
The Importance of Chain of Custody
Maintaining a chain of custody for the entire shredding process is an important part of keeping track of a particular document’s records. A full chain of custody is only reached when the following three conditions are met:
- The shredded paper has been baled
- The baled papers are sent off for recycling
- A certificate of destruction has been received
You may be wondering why this even matters once the documents have been shredded and taken to a facility. Even if your documents have been securely destroyed, you still want to make sure the paper bits are properly disposed of. Keeping a chain of custody for these papers ensures that a solid record of the entire process has been documented.
It is also important to note who handles your documents during the shredding process. Your files are being shredded for security reasons and you want to make sure the people that perform the shredding are trustworthy. A chain of custody keeps track of who comes in contact with the paper, holding them accountable for any wrongdoing that may occur.
Chain of Custody: Key Steps
All shredding jobs have a similar method, whether you use on-site or offsite shredding. No matter what, a truck will come out to your location and take your documents for shredding. The shredded paper is then baled at a facility for recycling. Let’s take a closer look at some of these steps to see how chain of custody is relevant to your shredding job:
- Trained professionals will remove the documents from your location. Most shredding companies will provide your business with locked bins to store the documents in. When the truck arrives, they never touch or see the files as they are stored in these bins for the entirety of the service. Therefore, chain of custody is not broken as the professionals do not come in contact with any of the files.
- Once the paper is shredded, it is stored in a locked container of the truck once again ensuring no one has access to your documents even after they’ve been shredded.
- At the facility, many companies will place barcodes on the boxes that contain your documents so that you can keep track of where your records are throughout the shredding cycle.
Once the documents are baled and sent out for recycling, you will receive a certificate of destruction, thus completing the chain of custody.
Ways to Ensure a Full Chain of Custody
If you want to make sure chain of custody is never broken during the shredding of your documents, be sure to do your research on the shredding company first. Look for these qualities in a shredder and your documents should follow chain of custody protocol:
- First and foremost check that the shredder even has a chain of custody policy
- Make sure the employees go through a security clearance process including background checks. The professionals that show up at your location should be uniformed and trained
- Check that the company will provide you with secure locked containers for ongoing service
- See if they barcode your documents so your documents can be tracked through the entire process
- Ensure the company offers a certificate of destruction that gives detailed information about the shredding job. The certificate should include the name of the professionals who handled your shredding, the location and time the shredding took place, and the weight of the shredding
If a shredding company takes all these precautions, it is more than likely you will not encounter a chain of custody failure and the whole shredding process should go smoothly.
Find a Reputable Shredder Near You
If you are interested in shredding for your business or residence, Shred Nations can help. We have a nationwide network of reliable contractors that can handle all your shredding needs. Give us a call at (800) 747-3365 or fill out the form to the right.