This page is designed to give a simplified overview of the security clearance procedures used within the UK and the reasons for their use. Please bear in mind that the procedures they refer to are extremely complex and are therefore open to interpretation. This means that requirements placed upon us by different organisations can vary, even for the same level of clearance, as those responsible for security apply their own understandings of the rules.
The following are the different types of national security clearances and employment checks undertaken by the DVA. (Defence Vetting Agency)
1. National Security Clearances
Counter Terrorist Check (CTC) is required for people who will be working in close proximity to public figures, or who will have access to information or material vulnerable to terrorist attack, or whose work involves unrestricted access to certain government or commercial establishments. A CTC does not allow access to, or knowledge or custody, of protectively marked assets and information. Typically used for candidates being considered for work alongside the Police Force.
Security Check (SC) is for people who will have substantial access to SECRET assets or occasional access to TOP SECRET assets and information.
Developed Vetting (DV) is the highest level of clearance produced by the Agency and is required for people who will have substantial unsupervised access to TOP SECRET assets, or for working in or with the intelligence and security agencies.
A small number of clearances are granted in spite of some reservations. Risk management requires follow-up work and monitoring of some cases. This activity is termed “aftercare”, and may be required in connection with any of the above clearances.
Employment Assurance Disclosures (EA(D)): These checks are required by people from the MOD, and MOD sponsored units and organisations that benefit defence, who are being considered for employment with children and vulnerable adults. The DVA acts as a co-ordinator.
2. Employment Checks
Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS (formerly Basic Check (BC)) and Enhanced Baseline Standard (EBS) (formerly Enhanced Basic Check (EBC)). These are not formal security clearances. They are a package of pre-employment checks that represent good recruitment and employment practice. A BPSS or EBS aims to provide an appropriate level of assurance as to the trustworthiness, integrity and probable reliability of prospective employees and should be applied to:
All successful applicants for employment in the public sector (both permanent and temporary).
All private sector employees working on government contracts (e.g. contractors and consultants), who require access to, or knowledge of, government assets protectively marked up to and including confidential.
BPSS and EBS are carried out by List X Companies (defence contractors who have permission to process security documentation) themselves to the agreed standard, and because they underpin the national security vetting process it is vital that they are carried out properly and thoroughly and before any other vetting is completed.
Period to be covered for employment checks are either 3 or 5 years depending on the List X company’s requirement.
As part of the Employment Checking process, the following will need to be undertaken:
Verification of nationality and immigration status
Although nationality and immigration rules can be complex, it is essential that an individual’s status is checked and recorded on the BPSS.
Under the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006, it is an offence for any person to employ a person aged 16 or over who is subject to immigration control, unless that person has valid and subsisting leave to enter or remain in the UK, which does not prohibit them from taking up the employment in question, or unless certain other conditions are fulfilled.
The potential employee should produce one of the following documents:
- An UK passport describing the holder as a British citizen or as a citizen of the UK and Colonies having the right of abode in the UK.
- A passport containing a certificate of entitlement issued by the UK, which certifies that the holder has a right of abode in the UK.
- An EEA registration certificate or document certifying permanent residence, or a residence card or permanent residence card, or the predecessors to these documents, namely EEA residence permits and residence documents. Note that nationals of Switzerland are treated as EEA nationals for these purposes.
- A passport or other travel document endorsed to show that the holder is exempt from immigration control, has indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK, or has no time limit on his stay.
- A passport or other travel document endorsed to show that the holder has current leave to enter or remain in the UK and is permitted to take up employment.
- An application registration card (ARC) which indicates that the holder is entitled to take employment in the UK.
Verification of identity
Normally two original documents must be seen for a BPSS from the following list, the number of documents required and type may vary between X listed clients:
Full 10 year Passport (in date)
Photo driving licence (both parts)
plus one of the following
- Birth certificate (within six months of birth)
- Marriage certificate
- Adoption certificate
- Divorce/Annulment papers
- HM Forces ID card
- Current firearms certificate
- Utility/Council Tax bill
- Bank, Building Society or credit union statement or passbook containing current address
- CIS Inland Revenue registration card
- Court order
- Credit card with photograph
- Medical card
Criminal Records Declaration
The potential employee will be asked to complete a Criminal Record Declaration Form. This form relies wholly on their honesty to provide complete and accurate information. A false declaration will be discovered when checked by the Disclosure Scotland or the Criminal Records Bureau. For reasons of transparency, the Criminal Record Declaration Form makes it clear that this is carried out.
Cautions, reprimands and final warnings are not criminal convictions and so are not dealt with by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (although it is possible that formal cautions, which can only be entered on a criminal record on the basis that the individual signed a statement admitting guilt for the stated offence, are being handed out for offences such as theft, assault and indecency).
When “unspent” convictions have been declared we will consider:
- Whether the offence would cast doubt on your or the company’s reputation.
- Whether the offence would affect your ability to do the job.
- Whether the conviction is relevant to the particular post (e.g. fraud might relate to a finance post but may not be a problem in other posts, convictions for protest/extremist acts such as those connected with animal rights may be more of a problem for one organisation than another etc)
- The length of time since the offence occurred.
- The nature and background of the offence (e.g. violent crime or a history of violence which may impact on an organisation’s duty of care to its staff)
- The seriousness of the offence.
- Whether there is a pattern of offences.
Permanent appointments will not be offered to individuals who are:
- On probation (in a legal sense).
- Under a suspended prison sentence.
- Released from prison on parole.
- Still under a conditional discharge
A full check of criminal records (“spent” and “unspent”) will be made on those undergoing the BPSS as part of certain MOD contracts or for access to civil nuclear sites and parts of the transport infrastructure (e.g. control centres/towers).
Contractors will not be given access to any of the MOD’s SECRET assets before approval is received from MOD.
A lack of UK residency, in itself, should not be an automatic bar to employment. However, it should be recognised that where meaningful background checks cannot be carried out and sufficient assurance cannot be gained by other means, it might not be possible to employ the individual. This may in no way reflect on the honesty and integrity of the individual, just that the required background checks in the country or countries of residence prior to arriving in the were simply not possible.