Security Vetting

Why is the vetting system necessary and what does it aim to achieve?

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.

Who is affected?

The system applies to people in the following categories 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; employees of contractors providing goods and services to the Government.

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.

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 Business Services / National Security Vetting (DBS/NSV), The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS). In a very small number of cases, where serious risks have been identified, a case may be discussed with the Ministry of Defence, security and personnel authorities. In an even smaller number of cases, and only where the person being vetted agrees, line management may be given some relevant information and be asked to help manage the risk. There is an extremely remote possibility of disclosure of vetting information in connection with criminal or civil proceedings.

How do I get a security clearance?

Individuals and companies cannot ask for a Security Clearance unless they are sponsored, and you will not be sponsored unless they are contracted (or are in the process of being contracted) to work on one or more specific MOD / Government classified projects. 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.

Why can't I just apply for a 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. It does not provide a guarantee of future reliability, and all security clearances are kept under review to ensure that the necessary level of assurance is maintained. This review is carried out by Government Departments and Government-sponsored contractors, who are responsible for the oversight and aftercare of individuals, granted a security clearance. This would not be possible in the case of private individuals. Security Vetting / Security Clearance is carried out to the following levels by approved government bodies.

Security Vetting / Security Clearance is carried out to the following levels by approved government bodies.

Levels of UK Clearance:

  • DV / Developed Vetting
  • SC / Security Check
  • CTC / Counter Terrorist Check
  • EBS / Enhanced Baseline Standard
  • BPSS / Basic Personnel Security Standard
  • NATO / NATO Cleared
  • MPS / Metropolitan Police Service
  • SIA / Security Industry Authority
  • EDBS / Enhanced Disclosure & Baring Service
  • DBS / Disclosure & Baring Service


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