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What Exactly is Security Vetting?

UK employers and employees sometimes use a process known as 'vetting' to help identify and manage national security risks. For example, some types of 'sensitive roles' can create security concerns, such as job placements with access to sites considered as high risk.

United Kingdom Security Vetting (UKSV)

Holding a security clearance, acquired through the vetting process, establishes a layer of trust between employees and their employers.

Often, having confidential conversations are enough to begin an ongoing dialogue about managing risks within an establishment.

But, once vetted for national security purposes, it would last for the full duration while that person holds the security clearance.

The United Kingdom Security Vetting (UKSV) delivers all vetting services in Britain. It is part of the Government Security Function and the Cabinet Office Government Security Group.

Note: Staff working for the UKSV are professional and ‘culturally’ sensitive. Their website contains further details about the new vetting charter and what personal information they hold.

Applying for a Security Related Role

Staff at the UKSV would need to ask for some personal information about any individual being vetted for a role that has inherent security risks.

Doing so helps to ensure that anyone can apply for a security related role and try to get clearance. This applies no matter what the current circumstances are – or the background.

When the UKSV delivers security vetting, they gather data with respect, and in a way that is proportionate and sensitive.

Even so, the applicant would need to provide information about their:

  • Background
  • Employment history
  • Family situation
  • Places of residence

Note: The interview would involve questions about any criminal convictions (as well as your life experiences and financial situation for higher levels of clearance).

How Does the UKSV Identify Areas of Risk?

The information that UKSV vetting pinpoints, helps the staff identify certain types of risk areas (e.g. relating to the actual clearance for which you are applying).

So, the answers that you provide are not going to be right or wrong. The security vetting process does not make any specific judgements about the applicant’s lifestyle and circumstances.

The level of clearance that the work role is going to require will determine exactly what they need to understand about you, such as:

  • How does security vetting work in the United Kingdom?Your nationality (and whether you spent any periods of residence or connections overseas). This would apply most to countries that have ‘challenging relationships’ with the United Kingdom.
  • The state of your mental and physical wellness (if it relates to risk management). In fact, health considerations are rarely a cause for concern in security vetting.
  • Whether someone could use any aspects about your private life or identity in a malicious manner. They would treat this information with strict confidentiality.
  • Is there a risk that someone could have such a significant influence on you that it would be inappropriately related to the way that you manage your family connections, friends, and associates.
  • Whether your spending habits are sustainable (they understand that few people are without some kind of debt or credit agreement).
  • Would any information posted ‘publicly’ online be consistent with the Civil Service code (e.g. for civil and crown servants). The staff are mindful that few people are without some kind of social media footprint.

Important: The main purpose of security vetting is to ask about, and explore, reasonable and relevant topics from a security perspective. Furthermore, reserving posts for United Kingdom nationals is not commonplace – according to equality laws and workplace discrimination.

Related Help Guides

Note: The short video explains how security vetting examines a person’s private life and background to ensure they can be safely trusted to learn secret information or hold certain job roles.

How Security Vetting Works in the United Kingdom