Security Clearance for IT Jobs in the Public Sector

12th September 2019

Have you thought about working in the public Sector and what is involved? We hear people talking about Security Clearance; Most Public Sector organisations will require some sort of clearance, but do we really understand the levels of clearance, the process and the time it takes to obtain?

Certes have been working within the Public Sector for over 30 years and we still get asked about the security clearance process on a daily basis. Understanding the clearance levels and process can take some time to get your head around.

For IT professionals seeking roles within the Public and Defence sectors, it’s important to understand that security clearance must be given before the assignment can begin. Candidates must undergo differing levels of Government security checks, dependent on the role, to ensure that they don’t pose any risk to national security when working with sensitive assets.

Whilst security clearance takes time and certainly requires a lot of paperwork (particularly for higher levels of clearance), success in security clearance can result in many benefits, including job security, and plenty of IT opportunities within the Public Sector.

How to get Security Clearance

To obtain a Security Clearance an individual will need to have a sponsor; this will be the organisation that is requesting the clearance.  Security Clearances are carried out by UKSV (United Kingdom Security Vetting) UKSV previously called DBS NSV (Defence Business Services National Security Vetting) if your role is dependant on Security clearance, you will not be able to start until clearance is obtained, however, depending on the role and the organisation, you may be able to start with a lower level of security whilst the higher level is being processed. This means you may have restricted access to site or the need to be escorted until clearance is granted.

Levels of Security Clearance

There are four main types of security clearance:

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS)
  • Counter-Terrorism Check (CTC)
  • Security Check (SC)
  • Developed Vetting (DV)

Baseline Personnel Security Standard

BPSS includes the Baseline Personnel Security Standard and the Enhanced Baseline Standard (EBS) and is required for higher level security clearance. BPSS acts as a pre-employment check to ascertain how trustworthy and reliable a prospective candidate is, whilst EBS acts as a pre-cursor to higher level, more in-depth security checks.

Counter-Terrorism Check

CTC is a security check to prevent people with who may have connections to terrorist organisations, or who may be vulnerable to pressure from terrorists, from gaining clearance to sensitive information that may be compromised.

This level of security clearance is usually required by IT professionals working for the Police, Legal Agencies and Government agencies hiring contractors.

Security Check

SC is the most common level of clearance and applies to IT roles that require access to secret or top-secret assets. Security check clearance is transferable between different government departments and can cover a wide range of Public Sector jobs, including IT, Health, Government, Defence, MoD and the private sector.

To gain SC clearance, candidates will usually need to have been a UK resident for a minimum of 5 years and will be required to complete the following stages of vetting:

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard
  • Departmental/Company Records Check
  • Security Questionnaire
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Security Service Check

SC will usually take up to 13 weeks to complete and is valid for 5 years for contractors, or 10 years for permanent employees.

Developed Vetting

DV is the highest level of security clearance for IT professionals in the Public Sector. Candidates in DV cleared roles have substantial access to top-secret assets, without supervision, and/or work closely with Government security and intelligence agencies.

Developed Vetting applies to IT positions within the Government, Defence, MoD and Aerospace. Checks are highly specialised and job specific. Stages of vetting include:

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Departmental/Company Records Check
  • DV Questionnaire
  • Credit Reference Check and Review of Personal Finances
  • Security Service Check
  • Check of Mental and Psychological Information

In addition to these checks, DV candidates will normally have been a UK resident for a minimum of 10 years and must also undergo an individual interview and further enquiries. Character referees, and current and previous employers or supervisors will also be contacted in writing, by telephone or by interview.

As a result of the high level of clearance granted by Developed Vetting and the in-depth checks carried out, clearance takes between 12 to 18 months to complete, so candidates should refrain from handing in their notice to current employers until clearance is given.

DV aftercare may also be required for some positions for risk management purposes. The validity of DV clearance is valid for a pre-determined period, after which, it must be reviewed.

Why would I be refused a Security Clearance?

Once you have completed the paperwork and submitted, your application will be processed and reviewed, it is important to remember that your clearance could be refused at any time and for any reason.  These checks are carried out to ensure you are suitable for a specific task and to provide assurance that the individual is trustworthy holds no threat and have a verifiable background, if for any reason upon processing the clearance application anything is flagged the application can be refused.  Some examples as to why a clearance could be refused are:

  • Financial irregularities- CCJ or high volumes of debt – could make an applicant a target for bribery.
  • Gaps in employment history that cannot be explained or confirmed are a reason for refusal.
  • Employment records – any indication from an employer that the individual is untrustworthy or a risk to security are also a reason for refusal.
  • Any indication in security service records that an applicant or any of their family members have any links to radical groups, espionage or terrorism could allow the vetting unit to refuse clearance.

If you are interested in applying for a security cleared IT jobs in the Public Sector, or have queries about security clearance, call +44(0)1675 468968 or contact us online.

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