Security clearance for jobs: What are the different types?

There are a number of jobs which may require security clearance of one kind or another, especially in the public sector. Airports and the Ministry of Defence are examples of the type of employers who will require a security check.

There are, however, several levels of security clearance which apply to different kinds of jobs. The different definitions and how to attain clearance are outlined below.

Security Clearance Level: BPSS (BC)

Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS), which used to be known as a Basic Check (BC), is the baseline level for security clearance jobs. This check assesses an applicant's current criminal record and their unspent convictions, under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

This provides employers with assurances as to a candidate's integrity and the extent of their trustworthiness, especially for work involving access to confidential material, whether documentary or otherwise. The result of this test can be revealed to the employee as there are no access restrictions for this level of assessment.

The check involves an evidential check of the client's identity documents and references. It takes only a day or two to complete, and is not classed as a formal security check. It is though a necessary prerequisite for applying for higher levels of clearance.

Security Clearance Level: Security Check (SC)

This level of clearance for jobs which mean workers require access on a long-term and uncontrolled basis to what are termed 'secret assets'. Those who must access top secret assets occasionally must also obtain this, the most widely held level of clearance.

The process of assessing a candidate requires a Basic Check, as well as additional checks of UK criminal and security records, similar overseas checks (if required) and a credit check. The application and clearance process usually takes around six weeks and clearance is reviewed every ten years.

Counter Terrorist Checks (CTC)

This clearance is designed to keep people with connections with or sympathies for terrorist organisations working in sensitive areas. Attaining clearance can take up to six months, and involves a Basic Check, and additional checks against Security Service (MI5) records and police records.

There is also a chance that a DfT security officer may have to interview the candidate. CTC checks usually remain valid for three years.

Developed Vetting (DV)

This is the highest level of clearance, and is required for highly sensitive tasks and jobs, though these are rare. It grants candidates long-term and uncontrolled access to top secret material.

Candidates must already have undergone a BC and SC check, and additionally must undergo a DV supplement questionnaire; another security check including a criminal records and credit reference checks, and a security service records check; a financial check; detailed checking of references; and an in-depth interview with a vetting officer.

The clearance process usually takes six months, and are re-investigated after five years. They are reviewed every seven years on an ongoing basis.

For all levels of clearance, a sponsor is required. This is usually the employer offering the job.


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