The Baseline Personnel Security Standard is generally referred to as BPSS. It was established to meet the minimal levels of checks required for all civil servants, members of the armed forces, temporary staff and government contractors, and any individual who would be accessing government assets.
For instance, BPSS screening will be an essential part of the government’s plan to fast-track armed forces veterans into public service roles, such as teachers, prison officers, roles within the NHS, and other civil service roles.
BPSS screening was introduced as a replacement for the Basic Checks in 2006, permits access to UK official assets, occasional access to UK secret assets, and allows for work in areas where top secret information may be overheard.
However, BPSS clearance would be deemed inadequate for an individual who is operating in a position where they would be able to gain a complete and overall picture of a secret plan, policy, or project, and would require a formal security clearance.
BPSS is the most basic of the four levels of personnel security controls, as suggested by the ‘Baseline’ name. It is a prerequisite for higher levels of national security checks, which include the Counter-Terrorist Check (CTC), Security Check (SC), and Developed Vetting (DV).
The purpose of a BPSS Clearance
According to GOV.UK BPSS Guidance, the main purpose of the standard is to act as a sensible and precautionary measure that intends to ‘confirm the identity of individuals (employees and contractors) and provide a level of assurance as to their trustworthiness, integrity, and reliability.’
The standard aims to help mitigate potential risks that may include applicants involved in illegal activities, undisclosed and unspent criminal convictions, and CV and qualification embellishments. Recent research has found that over half of CVs and job applications contain falsifications.
BPSS clearances also aim to reinforce and protect national security, safeguarding the country and community against untoward dangers that may impact order and well-being. This could extend to threats to citizens, way of life, integrity, and interests.
The elements of a BPSS Clearance
There are four key elements of the BPSS that must be verified, for which the mnemonic ‘RICE’ can serve as a handy reminder.
- R – Right to Work (RTW) checks – a verification of nationality, ID documentation, and immigration
- I – Identity – ID Data check (electronic identity authentication – name, address, aliases, links, accounts )
- C – Criminal records – a basic disclosure that searches for unspent convictions
- E – Employment checks – a confirmation of a minimum of three years employment history and activity.
Every organisation that is carrying out a BPSS check must ensure that they are chomping with the Immigration, Asylum, and Nationality Act 2006, which aims to prevent illegal migrants from working in the UK. Applicants are also obliged to give a reasonable account of any period of six months or more spent out of the UK in the last three years,
The responsibility for the application of BPSS checks on a candidate generally rests with the HR function, although the government advises that HR should work in conjunction with security units and if possible, with the involvement of legal advisors and procurement staff.
The screening of the continent workforce, particularly third-party contractors, to the same standards as their own employees has become apparent to many organisations, with many of these workers permitted the same level of access to company information and resources.
This has led a growing number of organisations to partner with screening providers to develop and implement robust and comprehensive screening programmes.
Many companies are now mirroring and completing the four key elements of the BPSS standard, with a clear focus on ongoing checks, as there is a realisation that a one-off check only provides an assessment of a person at that point in time.
Increased demand for screening standards
With the demand for screening standards increasing, especially in relation to BPSS checks, it is a sure sign that it will not be slowing down, and compliance now represents a primary consideration for employers, particularly with an increase in screening regulations.
It is also consistent with the trends reported in meeting or improving regulatory compliance now becoming the main reason for conducting pre-employment background screening checks.
If you’re looking for BPSS screening, contact us today, and see how we can help your business. You’re in safe hands with Agenda Screening Services.