Become Security Cleared

What is Security Clearance?

National Security Vetting is carried out so that people can work or carry out tasks, which in the course of doing so, requires national security clearance. Government organisations including the Ministry of Defence, Central Government, Defence Estates and the Armed Forces require Security Cleared personnel as well as Companies in the private sector contracted to undertake work for these bodies. Security Clearance levels vary depending upon the sensitivity of the information that is accessed.

The main Security Clearing bodies are:

Defence Business Services National Security Vetting (DBS NSV)
Foreign and Commonwealth Office Services (FCO Services)

Metropolitan Police Service (MPS)

How to obtain Security Clearance

You cannot apply for Security Clearance as an individual. Clearance is requested by an employer and carried out by Government agencies. Security Clearance is granted for a specific period of time depending on the employment term or for a particular project. 

Security Clearance can be verified and transferred to a new employer if required. If you do not have the Security Clearance required for a particular role you would not be able to start your employment until clearance has been obtained.

You do not have to be a British National in order to gain Security Clearance, but you will have to meet the following criteria depending on the level of clearance required.

There are four main types of national security vetting and clearances:

Developed Vetting (DV)  is the highest level of Security Clearance and is required for people with substantial unsupervised access to TOP SECRET assets, or for working in the intelligence or security agencies. This level of clearance involves Security Check (SC) and, in addition, completion of a (DV) questionnaire, financial checks, checking of references and a detailed interview with a vetting officer. To gain (DV) clearance you will normally have had to have been a resident in the UK for a minimum of 10 years.

Security Check (SC) is for people who have substantial access to SECRET, or occasional access to TOP SECRET assets and information. This level of clearance involves a (BPSS) check plus UK criminal and security checks and a credit check. To gain (SC) clearance you will normally have had to have been a resident in the UK for a minimum of 5 years.

Counter Terrorist Check (CTC) is required for personnel whose work involves close proximity to public figures, gives access to information or material vulnerable to terrorist attack or involves unrestricted access to certain government or commercial establishments. A (CTC) does not allow access, or knowledge, or custody, of protectively marked assets and information. The check includes a Baseline Personnel Security Standard Check (BPSS) and also a check against national security records. To gain (CTC) clearance you will normally have had to have been a resident in the UK for a minimum of 3 years.

Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) are not formal security clearances; they are a package of pre-employment checks that represent good recruitment and employment practice.

A BPSS aims to provide an appropriate level of assurance as to the trustworthiness, integrity, and probable reliability of prospective employees.  The check is carried out by screening identity documents and references.

Other Security checks and clearances:

NATO has four levels of security classification; NATO RESTRICTED (NR), NATO CONFIDENTIAL (NC), NATO SECRET (NS) and COSMIC TOP SECRET (CTS).

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

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)
  • SIA

The Security Industry Authority operates the compulsory licensing of individuals working in specific sectors of the private security industry within the UK.

The activities licensed under the Private Security Industry 2001 are:

Manned guarding, which includes:

  • Cash and Valuables in Transit
  • Close Protection
  • Door Supervision
  • Public Space Surveillance (CCTV)
  • Security guard
  • Immobilisation, restriction and removal of vehicles
  • Key Holding

Disclosure and Barring Service

Standard DBS Check

The standard DBS check is primarily for positions of high responsibility (for example, accountancy and security) Standard certificates reveal details of any convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings the applicant has received, that do not qualify for filtering. A standard check may only be applied for if the applicant's job role is specified in the Police Act 1997, as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

Enhanced DBS check

Enhanced DBS checks are for positions involving certain activities such as teaching children or treating adults and can also be obtained for certain other professions (for example, judicial appointments, RSPCA officers). An enhanced check may only be applied for if the applicant's job role is specified in both the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exception) order 1975 and the Police Act 1997.

In addition to the information provided on a Standard certificate, the Enhanced certificate involves an additional check with the police, who check if any other information is held on file that may be relevant (for instance, information that has not led to a criminal conviction but may indicate a danger to vulnerable groups). The police decide what (if any) additional information will be added to the certificate using the Quality Assurance Framework.

The involvement of local police forces can mean an enhanced check may take significantly longer than a standard check to be completed.

Standard certificate, the Enhanced certificate involves an additional check with the police, who check if any other information is held on file that may be relevant (for instance, information that has not led to a criminal conviction but may indicate a danger to vulnerable groups). The police decide what (if any) additional information will be added to the certificate using the Quality Assurance Framework.

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