Security Clearance and Developed Vetting Clearance: What are the Differences?

16 Jan 2017

National Security Vetting is a crucial part of safekeeping secure and confidential government documentation. But what are the key differences between Security Clearance (also known as Security Check) and Developed Vetting Clearance? 

National Security Vetting – The What, Why, and How?

Ultimately, the UK requires a security vetting system in order to protect against threats to the nation’s secure framework. It plays a critical part in ensuring that protected and sensitive assets don’t fall into the wrong hands or instil threats such as terrorism, espionage, serious crime or Cyber Security attacks. The vetting process thus determines who may or may not have access to SECRET and TOP SECRET Government information.

In order to ensure that those working with sensitive materials do not pose a risk to national security through having access to this information, the vetting system is tiered. The depth of security checks vary in line with the level of access that a job entails.

The vetting processes which we’re going to examine are the most stringent two processes; Security Clearance (SC) and Developed Vetting (DV) Clearance. But naturally, the two do have their differences as well as their similarities.

What is Security Clearance?

Security Clearance is the most common type of vetting process throughout the UK and covers a wide range of secure job roles. This type of clearance is required of individuals who will be frequently subject to SECRET information and very occasionally subject to TOP SECRET information.

In brief, the process includes:

  • - A Baseline Personnel Security Standard
  • - Completion of an SC questionnaire
  • - Checking identity documents and employment/educational references
  • - Checks against UK criminal and police records
  • - Credit reference checks

What is Developed Vetting?

Developed Vetting is much more specialised and rigorous than Security Clearance, levelling up through providing extensive unsupervised access and exposure to highly confidential, TOP SECRET assets. DV Clearance is also required of those working within intelligence or security agencies, with this level of clearance tending to be increasingly contract focused and job specific.

There are several stages of the Developed Vetting process. The process is the same above process as detailed for Security Clearance, but also includes initially passing the SC process, as well as undergoing an interview stage.

Developed Vetting and Security Clearance: Differences & Similarities

Although there are many differences in the application process and the outcomes for both Developed Vetting Clearance and Security Checks, that’s not to say that both processes aren’t pretty full on! Though DV is the most stringent level of clearance, SC is also rather vigorous.

One of the main differences between the two clearance levels is that DV is not at all transferable; it is normally always tied to a specific job contract. However, SC is usually transferable between job roles. SC is also valid for 5 years for government contractors and 10 years for permanent employees before the clearance must be re-assessed.

Another of the requirements of DV which differ for SC is that candidates must have been a UK resident for a minimum of 10 years in order to obtain DV Clearance, whereas SC requires individuals to have been a UK resident for a minimum of 5 years.

It’s impossible to say how long both of these clearances take to be granted and it can vary in how long it takes to make an informed decision in both cases. Each clearance procedure is completely dependent upon individual circumstance.  

Another of the differences between DV and SC is that due to the nature of the intensity of DV Clearance, you are required to undertake a one hour long face-to-face interview (curious? - we have a blog on what to expect from the DV interview process here). It is also required that vetted individuals have the support of a Referee who will also need to partake in a face-to-face interview (we also have an interview guide for DV Referee’s here). Whereas, Security Clearance does not normally require a face-to-face interview process - there can occasionally be some cases of this, yet it is much less likely.

Of course, both SC and DV Clearance are both equally as necessary towards assuring that security sensitive government assets remain protected. Yet, it’s important to understand that there are differences in the way in which the clearance processes are carried out… hopefully this article has provided you with a little more insight into this.

If you’re interested in either SC or DV cleared roles, you’re in the right place! You can check out our Security Cleared roles here and our DV cleared roles here. Alternatively, feel free to get in touch with one of the expert team at Thatcher MCS. Want to read more? Take a look at some of the Thatcher MCS blog content.

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