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what is security clearance?

what is security clearance?

Personnel 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 and the Armed Forces require Security Cleared personnel as well as Companies in the private sector contracted to undertake work for these bodies. Clearance levels vary depending upon the sensitivity of the information that is accessed.

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 checks and clearances:

Basic Checks (BC) and Enhanced Basic Checks (EBC): These are not formal security clearances. A (BC) or (EBC) provides a level of assurance as to the trustworthiness and integrity of individuals whose work involves access to CONFIDENTIAL assets or information. The check is carried out by screening identity documents and references.

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 Basic Check (BC) 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.

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 Basic 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.

Developed Vetting (DV) This 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 adition, completion of a (DV) questionnaire, a financial check, 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.

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 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

Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) clearance is required for posts that involve working with children or vulnerable adults. Standard Disclosures may also be issued for people entering certain professions, such as members of the legal and accountancy professions. Standard Disclosures contain the following; details of all convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings held on the Police National Computer (PNC);

Enhanced CRB checks are required for posts involving a far greater degree of contact with children or vulnerable adults involving regular caring for, supervising, training or being in sole charge of such people i.e. Teacher, Scout or Guide leader. Enhanced Disclosures contain the same information as the Standard Disclosures but with the addition of local police force information considered relevant by Chief Police Officer(s).