Types of UK Security Clearance

30 Nov 2016

Throughout the UK, security clearance is a system that approves individuals eligibility for a variety of security-sensitive positions. There are currently four types of clearance within the UK, but when are these clearances required and how do you get them?

Firstly, what is Security Clearance?

Security clearance is a system for granting individuals who require access to confidential and classified information within secure positions the approval that they need. Here in the UK, there are 4 types of security clearance which all vary depending on the extremity of information that an individual is likely to be exposed to throughout their secure career.

It is also worth noting that you cannot get security cleared as an individual; clearance must be requested by an employer on behalf of their employee in order for them to begin their role or have any access to confidential documentation.

The four clearance processes are undertaken by the Government department; Defence Business Services National Security Vetting (DBS NSV). All clearances vary in their level of stringency and include:

  • -Baseline Personal Security Standard (BPSS)
  • -Counter Terrorist Check (CTC)
  • -Security Check (SC)
  • -Developed Vetting (DV)

Let’s look a bit further into when these security clearances are required and how they are acquired…

Baseline Personal Security Standard (BPSS)

BPSS is the least rigorous security check out of the four; it is not normally looked upon as formal clearance. Generally, BPSS clearance acts as a pre-employment check which implies both good recruiting and good employment practice. BPSS clearance usually involves verification of identity, nationality, immigration status, and also includes employment history and criminal record status checks. Every employee who works in a government based role will have to have been granted BPSS clearance before they can take up their positions.

Some examples of when it is required to undergo BPSS clearance is if you work in the Armed Forces or for companies with access to Secure Government information. BPSS is also needed as the baseline for the national security vetting processes of the higher clearance levels.

If you’re interested in reading more about BPSS, we have an in-depth blog on the topic here.

Counter Terrorist Check (CTC)

Counter Terrorist Checks are used when an individual is working in close proximity to public figures, or require access to establishments considered to be at risk of terrorist attack. Checks are also carried out to ensure that individuals who may have relations to terrorist organisations, or may be susceptible to pressure from terrorist organisations, are refrained from having access to duties where confidential information may be at risk.

The CTC process usually takes approximately 6 months to complete and the clearance status tends to last 3 years. In order to qualify for this level of clearance, you are required to have been a UK resident for at least 3 years.

Security Check (SC)

Security checks are the most common type of vetting process and are required for people who require frequent access to secret information, or infrequent access to top secret information. This form of check is valid for 5 years for Government Contractors and ten years for Permanent Employees, and is dependent on whether the individual still requires access to confidential materials throughout the full 5-10 year timeframe.

In order to be eligible for a security check, individuals must have been a UK resident for a minimum of 5 years.

In order to be granted SC Clearance, individuals must undergo:

  • -Baseline Personal Security Standard (BPSS) 
  • -SC Questionnaire
  • -ID confirmation
  • -Employment and education document confirmation
  • -Checks against UK Criminal and Police records
  • -Credit reference checks

You can find our specific SC cleared vacancies here. 

Developed Vetting (DV)

DV clearance is the highest form of security clearance and is known to be the most stringent and intense form of clearance due to vetted individual’s frequent exposure to sensitive, top secret information.

The process can take up to 9 months before full clearance is permitted and once the clearance is granted, it is only valid for a pre-determined time period, after which a revised assessment must be assumed.

In order to be DV cleared, it is normally practice for the individual to have been a UK resident for a minimum of 10 years.

There are several extremely strict, compulsory stages of the DV process which must occur in order for clearance to be approved:

  • -Initial Baseline Personal Security Standard, as well as SC Clearance
  • -Completion of a Developed Vetting questionnaire
  • -Completion of an in-depth financial questionnaire
  • -A review of overall personal finances
  • -Medical and psychological assessments
  • -Interviews with the candidates chosen referees
  • -A detailed 2-3 hour interview with the candidate

Want to find out more about DV Clearance? You can find out more in our previous blogs over on Thatcher MCS.

Are you looking for your next security cleared opportunity? Then why not take a look at our SC Cleared job board or our DV Cleared job board. Alternatively, we have a variety of different roles over on Thatcher MCS. Get in touch with one of our team members if you’re interested in finding out more about Security Cleared Jobs.

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