Births Deaths and Marriages UK

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There are hundreds of registration districts for Births, Deaths and Marriages (known as BDM or BMD) in the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Each district has a District Registrar. England and Wales share a General Register Office, while Northern Ireland and Scotland have their own.

English and Welsh records are in the process of being completely digitised. This will result in a database of over 250 million records of all births, marriages and deaths which took place from the beginning of civil registration in 1837 to the current day.

Concerns with regards to privacy over the outsourced project have been largely dismissed by the ONS, with them stating that these are 'Public documents that are already in the public domain'. The database is intended to be used also by the UK Passport office, with the hope that deaths can be connected to births to stop Passports being issued for someone already deceased to reduce identity fraud.

Another concern over the digitisation is that the documents being digitised could be secondary records, rather than the original records held by the local registrars. Working from original records would lower the rate of error in records.

Based on a sample of one per cent of the marriage records, research made by Michael Foster estimated the following rates of error, omission and duplication could reach up to a million errors in the 1837-1899 period.

Errors would have inevitably occurred along all steps of the procedure, from quarterly returns themselves being omitted completely at the start of the process, records being missed during the indexing, along with missing fiche and film of the entries causing further omission.

During the process of indexing would cause errors with individual names being duplicated in the index, names being mispelt, and further potential errors of registration district, volume and page number.

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