A Guide to Security Clearance

Published on: 26 Aug 2020

What is Security Clearance?

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.

To gain a UK Security Clearance, an individual must undergo a process of examination and evaluation, this involves a background check, before employment is offered to them.

There are different levels of Security Clearance. Depending on the industry, position or site location, personnel could be instructed to receive a specified level of clearance in order to meet the contract requirements.


How do I get Security Clearance?

An individual cannot apply for security clearance themselves or through an independent limited company; instead, Clearance is requested by an employer/sponsor and carried out by the United Kingdom Security Vetting Unit.


Levels of Security Clearance 

  • Disclosure & Barring Services (DBS) - DBS checks are for positions involving certain activities and high levels of responsibility such as teaching children or dealing with vulnerable adults and can also be obtained for certain other professions such judicial appointments or RSPCA officers.​
  • Basic Personnel Security Standard (BPSS) - BPSS is not a formal security clearance but instead, is a package of pre-employment checks that represent good recruitment and employment practice. It aims to provide an appropriate level of assurance as to the trustworthiness, integrity, and probable reliability of prospective employees. 
  • Counter Terrorist Check (CTC) - A Counter Terrorist Check (CTC, or CTC Cleared) is a Clearance required for people who work in close proximity to public figures, or who have access to material or information that may be vulnerable to terrorist attack, or whose role involves unrestricted access to government or commercial establishments considered to be at risk from terrorist attack.
  • Security Check (SC) - A Security Check (SC, or SC Cleared) is required for people who have substantial (or occasional controlled access) to secret assets and determines that their character and personal circumstances would not mean they would be a risk with such assets.
  • Developed Vetting (DV) - Developed Vetting (DV) is the highest level of Security Clearance and is required for people with substantial unsupervised access to SECRET assets or for those working in the Intelligence or Security agencies.​
  • Security Industry Authority (SIA) - The Security Industry Authority (SIA) 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 regulation pertain to Manned Guarding.
  • NATO/NATO Cleared - 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.


Reasons for Security Clearance being refused

  • Applicant has not been a resident for long enough in the UK (4/5 years for SC, 9/10 for DV).
  • Financial irregularities, such as CCJ’s or high levels of debt that may make an applicant a target for bribery or who may not be trusted with financial assets.
  • Employee records, any indication from employer records that an individual may be a security risk or untrustworthy.
  • A criminal record spent or unspent is not necessarily a reason to bar a security clearance. Careful consideration may be taken in such cases to ensure that relevant records would not be a potential threat. If convictions spent or unspent are not declared at point of clearance, then this will also raise questions on the applicant’s suitability for clearance and integrity.
  • Traces in the security services records. If the applicant or their immediate family have any ties to radical groups, terrorism, espionage etc., the right to refuse clearance may be used.
  • Gaps in employment history that cannot be confirmed or traced.
  • Refusal to answer some of the questions in the questionnaire or interview process.

To search for Security Cleared jobs, visit: https://www.securityclearedjobs.com/jobs/