For any individual wanting to work in the licensed security industry – from close protection, manned guarding and door supervision through to CCTV providers and vehicle immobilisers - British Standard BS7858 security screening outlines the background screening requirements that must be complied with before employment can commence.  BS7858 security screening is not to be confused with Security Checks (SC), commonly referred to as ‘security clearance’.  Security Checks are solely processed and approved by the Ministry of Defence’s United Kingdom Security Vetting (UKSV) department and are, clearly, a very different consideration.  While the Security Industry Authority (SIA) is the regulatory body that oversees the security sector, bodies such as the National Security Inspectorate (NSI) exist to accredit businesses within it. Accreditation proves to customers that a business operates in line with all existing regulation and industry best practice regarding its governance, products and services as well as its workforce.

While businesses can license their staff directly with the SIA, many opt to do so via the NSI as part of gaining their NSI Gold or Silver accreditation. Engaging in licensed security activities without the proper accreditation can result in imprisonment as well as financial penalties.  Verifile itself holds an NSI Gold accreditation for our security vetting services. This means that we comply with BS7858 ourselves, providing reassurance to our clients that we vet our own staff to this high, industry-recognised standard and can be relied on to do the same for theirs. It means we can also support companies in the Approved Contractor Scheme (ACS) who are permitted to screen their own employees in-house.  The background screening checks required to comply with BS7858 include a Right to Work check; a credit check; criminal records Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check; ID checks; character reference; and a five-year employment history check. A fraud and sanctions check is also recommended.

One of the most challenging parts of the BS7858 screening process is gap verification. This occurs during the process of verifying a candidate’s employment history and seeking acceptable explanations for any gaps within it.  Frequently, references are received from previous employers where the dates of employment differ from those provided by the candidate. These differences can sometimes be marginal; nothing more than a few days. Nevertheless, they result in gaps which the candidate had not previously highlighted or explained. In such instances, amended references and/or new references need to be sought, adding unwanted delays to the screening process.

Employers in this sector should be aware that some candidates simply will not be able to comply with BS7858. Identity and Right to Work checks typically prove most problematic. However, employment history regarding previous cash-in-hand jobs can also prove challenging to verify adequately.  Knowing this, employers are well advised to run their own preliminary checks on whether a candidate is unlikely to secure their accreditation before making offers of employment. This is preferable to spending time and money on a candidate who, it subsequently transpires, has no chance of being accredited.  

These preliminary checks should, at the very least, involve taking and retaining copies of documents proving a candidate’s identity and address that have been checked in the candidate’s presence. Details of the person who examined and took copies of these documents should also be captured.

Our CEO recently shared his thoughts on accreditations, quality data, client experience and, of course, what we’re about as a firm with Risk Xtra magazine. Read all about it here

Checks that employers may want to consider running in this sector

Right to Work: We’ll ensure that a candidate’s documentation meets the current Home Office requirements. We can also repeat checks as and when needed for individuals who have a limited entitlement to remain in the UK.

Identity checksTo prevent employers falling victim to identity fraud, we can undertake electronic verification checks on identity documents provided by a candidate. Alternatively, we can provide online identity checks, using biographical data.

Credit checks: We’ll establish a candidate’s identity, address history and financial status via credit referencing agency records. The search will reveal details of financial probity and information including County Court Judgements, bankruptcies and voluntary arrangements within the last six years. This search will be recorded on the candidate’s file but will not be visible to other parties and will not affect the candidate’s credit score. 

Criminal record checks: We’ll undertake the appropriate level of UK criminal record checks, (Standard level for SIA-licensed roles; Basic for all others; and Enhanced for all roles, licensed or not, connected to vulnerable adults or children, subject to eligibility). We’re also able to obtain overseas criminal records for candidates with an international background.

Employment history (and gap analysis): We can verify a candidate’s work history and references for the past five years, including checks on the existence and authenticity of all listed employers. Using our CV comparison service, we can also check for any discrepancies between the CV used to secure an interview and the subsequent findings of the full background check. Our gap analysis check will secure explanation of any gaps in a candidate’s activity history when they were neither employed or in full-time education.

Fitness and propriety check: This is a self-declaration process covering topics such as any credit issues, directorships or convictions that an individual may have had.

Character references: We'll obtain a character reference, providing a referee’s opinion of the candidate. This will state the capacity in which the referee knows the individual, how long they have known them for, their strengths, areas for development and the referee’s opinion of their suitability for a role.

SIA licence status check: Where applicable, we’ll check on the status of a candidate’s existing SIA licence (for roles that require one). 

Checks that are currently only recommended in the screening standard include:

Passport verification: We'll confirm the authenticity of an individual's passport.

Online identity check: In this check, we'll verify a candidate’s identity by cross-referencing their personal information against a variety of government and proprietary sources.

Global fraud and sanctions watchlists: We’ll check to see whether a candidate’s name appears on any of the hundreds of publicly available watchlists worldwide, relating to anything from terrorism and fraud through to being a barred or politically exposed person.

Other checks that are either role-dependent, or recommended by Verifile, include:

Employment history (and gap analysis): Extended to ten years.

Professional and academic qualifications: Where applicable, we can check the validity of someone’s professional accreditations or registrations while also checking that their academic qualifications are genuine. For all professional and academic qualifications, we’ll always check at source with the awarding body.

Directorship checks: We'll check to establish whether a candidate holds any company directorships and whether or not they are disqualified from being a director.

Social media checks: An increasingly popular – and relevant – check for employers keen to understand whether someone’s social media activity could damage their brand, reputation or client relationships. As well as highlighting illegal activity and undesirable characteristics, such checks can also play a part in authenticating a candidate’s employment history.

Our clients in this industry include

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