Security Clearance - Our guide

Security Clearance1. What is Security Clearance?

Personnel Security vetting is undertaken in order that individuals may undertake certain jobs or carry out tasks that require a national security clearance. These roles and tasks are located throughout the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces, as well as in the private sector dealing with defence related work. In addition to this, a number of other government departments and organisations require Security Clearance for roles within their organisation or projects. According to the MoD “A security clearance provides a certain level of assurance at a point in time, as to an individual’s suitability to have trusted access to sensitive information” Clearance does not provide a guarantee of future reliability and therefore all security clearances are kept under review to ensure that the relevant level of assurance is maintained.

 

The clearance levels are processed by the following Government agencies:

 

  • Defence Vetting Agency (DVA)
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO)
  • Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

 

2. Why is vetting necessary?

The UK needs a security system to protect against threats from hostile intelligence services, terrorists and other pressure groups. Vetting ensures that anyone who goes through the process can be trusted with sensitive government information or property.

 

3. Who is affected?

The system applies to individuals whose employment involves access to sensitive Government assets, Crown servants, members of the security and intelligence agencies; members of the armed forces; the police; employees of certain other non-government organisations that are obliged to comply with the Government’s security procedures and employees of contractors providing goods and services to the Government.

 

4. How does the vetting system work?

Candidates for jobs that provide access to sensitive information or sites are asked to complete one or more security questionnaires, which invite them to provide the personal details needed to enable the necessary checks to be carried out. Interviews may also be carried out. The depth of checks varies according to the level of regular access to sensitive information that the job entails.

 

5. How confidential is the vetting process?

All personal information gathered during the vetting process is handled in the strictest of confidence by the vetting agencies. These bodies include The Defence Vetting Agency (DVA), The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). If a serious risk is identified then this may be escalated to the Ministry of Defence security and personnel authorities. Only with prior agreement would line management be given any relevant information in order to manage any given risk.

 

6. How do I obtain Security Clearance?

All individuals require a sponsor in order to apply for security clearance. Neither individuals nor organisations can ask for clearance unless they are sponsored, and you will not be sponsored unless the company is currently contracted, or are in the process of being contracted to work on a specific MoD classified project. For large contracts, an officer in the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) or Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO) - typically a Project Officer will be your sponsor. For staff in sub-contracted organisations, sponsorship will be provided through the prime contractor.

 

7. How long can Security Clearance take to be awarded?

The following details are a guideline of timescales and due to the types of information gathered and recorded can only be used as a guideline and other factors will invariably affect the process including for example the number of applications in the clearance process:

 

  • BPSS - 14 days
  • CTC - 30 days
  • SC - 30 days
  • DV - 95 days+

 

Security Clearances lapse 12 months after leaving the post where it was required. If you join an alternative security cleared role within 12 months after leaving your last security cleared post then there is usually no need to be vetted again. Individuals should be aware that when clearance is awarded the Vetting Officer will state how many years it is valid before rechecking is required. Individuals should also be aware that transferring clearances between agencies can result in full or partial rechecks, irrespective of how recent the last check was undertaken.

 

8. Current levels of Security Clearance.

I.

II.

III.

IV.

V.

VI.

VII.

VIII.

IX.

X.

DV / Developed Vetting

SC / Security Check

CTC / Counter Terrorist Check

EBS / Enhanced Baseline Standard

BPSS / Basic Personnel Security Standard

NATO Cleared

MPS / Metropolitan Police Service

SIA / Security Industry Authority

CRB / Criminal Records Bureau

ECRB / Enhanced Criminal Records Bureau

 

 

I. Developed Vetting

Developed Vetting (DV) or DV cleared is required for individuals with substantial unsupervised access to TOP SECRET assets or for those individuals working in the intelligence or security agencies. To gain (DV) clearance you will normally have had to have been a resident in the UK for a minimum of 10 years.

 

The following security vetting stages are mandatory before a DV clearance can be approved:

 

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard
  • Departmental / Company Records Check
  • Security Questionnaire
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Credit Reference Check and review of personal finances
  • Security Service Check
  • Check of medical and psychological information provided
  • Subject Interview and further enquiries, which will include interviews with character referees and current and previous supervisors

 

On completion of the vetting process, the information collected is assessed and a decision made to refuse or approve DV clearance. Once clearance is granted, it is only valid for a pre-determined period after which a review must be conducted if the clearance is still required. In a small percentage of cases clearance is granted in spite of some reservations. In these instances, risk management requires follow-up work and monitoring and this "aftercare" takes place accordingly.

 

II. Security Check

Security Check (SC) or SC Cleared is required for individuals who have substantial access to SECRET or occasional controlled access to TOP SECRET assets. To gain (SC) clearance you will normally have had to have been a resident in the UK for a minimum of 5 years.

 

The following security vetting stages comprise a full SC clearance:

 

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard
  • Departmental / Company Records Check
  • Security Questionnaire
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Credit Reference Check
  • Security Service Check

 

On completion of the vetting process, the information collected is assessed and a decision made to refuse or approve a SC clearance.

 

III. Counter Terrorist Check

CTC or CTC Cleared is required for individuals who work in close proximity to public figures, or who have access to information or material vulnerable to terrorist attack, or involves unrestricted access to government or commercial establishments assessed to be at risk from terrorist attack. A CTC does not allow access to, or knowledge or custody of, protectively marked assets, but the baseline Personnel Security Standard which is carried out on all MoD personnel and contractors, allows a degree of access. To gain (CTC) clearance you will normally have had to have been a resident in the UK for a minimum of 3 years.

 

The following security vetting stages are mandatory before a CTC clearance can be approved:

 

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard
  • Departmental / Company Records Check
  • Security Questionnaire
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Security Service Check

 

On completion of the vetting process, the information collected is assessed and a decision made to refuse or approve a CTC clearance.

 

IV / V. Enhanced Baseline Standard and Baseline Personnel Security Standard

These clearance levels were formerly Enhanced Basic Check / Basic Check+ and Basic Check. These are not formal security clearance levels and just aim to provide the appropriate level of assurance as to the integrity, trustworthiness and likely reliability of any given individual. This clearance level is required if you apply for employment in the public sector and Armed Forces (both permanent and temporary). In this instance you should expect to be asked to provide information and documentation to confirm your identity, employment or educational history, Nationality & Immigration status and Criminal record (unspent convictions only). This level of clearance is also applied to private sector employees who are required to work on government contacts who require access to or knowledge of, government assets protectively marked up to and including CONFIDENTIAL. There are no access restrictions for this level of disclosure and the result may be sent to the applicant or the employer. It is however a prerequisite to all formal and higher security clearance levels.

 

VI. NATO Cleared

NATO has four levels of security classification which are as follows:

 

  • NATO Restricted (NR)
  • NATO Confidential (NC)
  • NATO Secret (NC)
  • Cosmic Top Secret (CTS)

 

NATO's clearance levels function independently of any clearance levels for other nations. However, it is understood that for most NATO nations, the granting of a NATO security clearance is handled in a similar manner to that of obtaining a national security clearance.

 

VII. MPS Vetted

Metropolitan Police Vetting is carried out for all members of the Metropolitan Police Service (police officers, police staff and members of the specials constabulary), Non Police Personnel including Contactors, Contractors representatives, consultants, volunteers and any person who requires unescorted access to MPS premises or uncontrolled access to police information.

 

The MPS has the following Force Vetting levels:

 

  • Initial Vetting Clearance (IVC)
  • Management Vetting (MV)

 

VIII. SIA

The Security Industry Authority operates the compulsory licensing of individuals working in specific sectors of the private security industry within the UK. It is an independent body that reports into the Home Secretary and its’ activities are licensed under the Private Security Industry 2001 are:

 

  • Manned guarding (including cash & valuables in transit, close protection, door supervision, public space surveillance and security guards)
  • Immobilisation, restriction and removal of vehicles
  • Key Holding

 

Whether or not an individual requires a licence is determined by the role that is performed and the activity that is undertaken. These are described fully in Section 3 and Schedule 2 of the Private Security Industry Act 2001. This licensing ensures that private security operatives are ‘fit and proper’ persons who are properly trained and qualified to do their job.

 

IX. Criminal Records Bureau

Criminal Records Bureau clearance is required for posts that involve working with children or vulnerable adults. In addition Standard Disclosures may also be issued for individuals entering certain professions, such as members of the legal and accountancy professions. Standard Disclosures contain the details of all convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer (PNC)

 

X. Enhanced Criminal Records Bureau

These checks are required for roles involving a far greater degree of contact with children or vulnerable adults involving regular caring for, supervising of, training or being in sole charge of such people for example a teacher. Enhanced Disclosures contain the same information as the Standard Disclosures but with the addition of local police force information considered relevant by Chief Police Officer(s).

 

There are three official criminal record disclosure services within the UK:

 

  1. The CRB provides a service for England & Wales
  2. Disclosure Scotland is a service provided to manage and operate the disclosure service in Scotland
  3. Access NI provides a service for Northern Ireland with disclosures at basic, standard and enhanced levels.

 

Security Cleared Jobs

 

Browse secruity cleared jobs in the UK and abroad on our dedicated secruity cleared job vacancies page.

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