United Kingdom Security Vetting (UKSV) is the main UK government provider of security clearances.
Responsibilities as a holder of national security clearance
National Security Vetting (NSV) provides a valuable snapshot of an individual at the time the checks are completed, and organisations also need to maintain on-going confidence in vetted staff and contractors. The clearance holder, their Line Managers, and Security Controllers/Managers all have an important role to play in this.
As previously explained, you have been vetted because your role requires you to have access to sensitive information or assets or places you in a position of trust. On appointment, all staff and contractors in a vetted role should be briefed by their Line Manager, Supervisor or Security Controller on the security requirements specific to their role and the risks that NSV and other local security controls are intended to mitigate. Line Managers should be satisfied that vetted staff understand their security responsibilities and the consequences of not meeting them.
You must comply with any local security policies and instructions that are notified to you. Your vetting information provided by your organisation will have details of how long your clearance is valid and other relevant guidance. It is important that you keep these details safe as you may be asked for them at various points.
In order to maintain your clearance, you should:
- understand and adhere to local security arrangements
- comply with requests to review your clearance, completing required documentation in a timely manner and fully co-operating with the review process
- if you hold an eSC, DV or eDV (SC in specific instances and as determined by your department) you must complete an Annual Security Appraisal Form, and ensure your Line Manager, Supervisor or Security Controller completes their part
- report any changes in circumstances to your line manager, personnel security team or Security Controller/Manager. A change in circumstance may include living with someone new, a divorce, your financial situation, or conflict of interests (e.g. loyalties or personal relationships potentially at odds with your project/work). Any information you believe could potentially affect your security clearance should be reported. You may be required to complete a Change of Personal Circumstances (CPC) form
- create and contribute to a positive environment in which security is given appropriate priority
- raise any concerns about individual or organisational practices that are in breach of security procedures in the most appropriate way. If you have concerns about an activity or individual, speak to your local security team, Security Controller, Line Manager or HR as appropriate.
You should not:
- act in a way that breaches the Civil Service Code, the values and standards of your service or your company’s own codes of behaviour
- seek to conceal mistakes, security incidents or breaches. Not reporting an incident will always be dealt with more strongly than taking responsibility
- disclose your level of security clearance online or on social media profiles
- leak information intentionally or unintentionally through failing to protect data and assets entrusted to you
- be negligent of security considerations when working at home, offsite or remotely.
You should think about your security clearance as a credential you must maintain., Although there are formal review periods, clearances may be reviewed, suspended, lapsed or withdrawn at any stage if the organisation no longer has the necessary confidence or assurance in the individual. This is especially so in respect of DV clearances, which give individuals access to the most sensitive assets. You should be aware that you must exercise discretion, good judgement and apply the necessary security controls as an on-going requirement.
Individuals who handle classified information owned by international partners (for example NATO, EU, foreign governments) are subject to specific arrangements and controls. If this applies to you, please consult your security official for appropriate guidance.
Further information is available in International classified information: personnel security clearance
A summary of vetting policy and processes is also available in the HMG personnel security controls
Aftercare and how to maintain your clearance
Aftercare is the term we use for the maintenance of effective personnel security. Its purpose is to investigate and monitor anything of continuing security concern, between periods of normal review, which could affect an individual holding a NSV clearance.
The CTC, SC and DV security vetting processes give an assurance of an individual’s suitability for access to sensitive government information or other valuable assets. However, vetting alone does not give a guarantee of future reliability. It is important that personnel security continues after the initial security clearance is approved and that any new information or concerns that may affect the reliability of a person are brought quickly to the attention of the appropriate authorities. This is achieved through a combination of Aftercare and the routine security clearance review procedures.
Aftercare also includes any risk management measures put in place to monitor the security reliability of individuals who hold a security clearance.
The following links will provide further information on what you need to do to maintain your clearance through aftercare activities:
- change of personal circumstances (CPC)
- security appraisal form (SAF)
Change of personal circumstances
You must report any relevant change in your circumstances that could have a bearing upon your clearance. This should be done by completing the appropriate change of personal circumstances form. A list of the available forms and advice for which one to use is included below:
- if you marry
- if you re-marry
- if you set up a stable unmarried relationship where you are living with someone as a couple
- (for DV clearance holders only) you are living in shared accommodation and a new co-resident aged 18 or over moves in, there is a requirement for your clearance to be revalidated.
It is the responsibility of every vetted individual to report such changes to UKSV. Please complete and submit a Change of Personal Circumstances form.
You are also required to report the following events, using the appropriate form if there is a substantial change in your financial circumstances (for example, being declared bankrupt, receiving a sizeable inheritance or suffering a substantial financial impact due to divorce or the dissolution of a civil partnership). You do not need to report a change in financial circumstances if you hold a CTC clearance.
You may subsequently be asked to complete a Financial questionnaire (FQ): NSV003, which will help UKSV to build up a detailed picture of your financial situation. This process applies when the change in your financial circumstances was unforeseen.
If your finances were giving cause for concern when you went through the clearance process, it is likely that UKSV will have scheduled a review to take place after a suitable interval, to confirm that you are not leaving yourself open to pressure or bribery. As part of this review, you will be asked to complete an FQ.
- receiving a criminal conviction, or being arrested or cautioned by the police (including military police if relevant):
- a change of nationality:
Line management responsibilities and the security appraisal form (SAF)
The initial component checks that comprise Security Vetting clearances can only provide a snapshot at the time they are done. It is essential that clearances are actively maintained via effective on-going personnel management processes, which at the eDV, DV and enhanced SC level will include an annual security appraisal.
All Line Managers or Supervisors of individuals who hold NSV clearance should be aware of their responsibilities with regard to regularly engaging staff on security issues. Managing security clearances requires active conversations between vetted individuals and their managers throughout the year and prompt reporting of any issues of concern as they arise. The SAF must be completed by all holders of an eDV, DV or eSC clearance, and by their Supervisor, to provide assurance that they are being supported and monitored as is appropriate for individuals with access to sensitive assets. This process may be extended by exception to SC or CTC clearances.
Line Managers, Supervisors or Security Controllers should monitor behaviour that could potentially impact on the security of the organisation. For example, signs of inappropriate behaviour or negligent practices contrary to security arrangements. This is an on-going responsibility that is part of good line management and not just a requirement in relation to completion of the SAF process.
Any security concerns in respect of staff generally should be reported to the local security unit who will record it and take follow up actions where appropriate. Whilst vetting confidentiality must be maintained, organisations must ensure any relevant information is shared appropriately between vetting units, HR and Line Managers to help manage staff and staff performance in a joined up and holistic way. Line Managers are not vetting officers but should be expected to exercise both a duty of care for staff and be mindful of potential security risks to the organisation.
The Maintaining security clearances: guidance for staff and contractors and Maintaining security clearances: guidance for Line Managers/Supervisors leaflets provide common sense guidance to support this process. National security vetting: advice for staff
The annual security appraisal requires the Line Manager, Supervisor or Security Controller to make an assessment of an individual’s continuing suitability to hold DV (or Enhanced SC). Where there are issues of concern the line manager may be interviewed (or ask to be interviewed) by the security unit/Security Controller to further explain concerning or complex areas.
Please complete and submit your Annual Security Appraisal Form using National Security Vetting: security appraisal form
More information on aftercare can be found in UKSV National Security Vetting: aftercare information
If the annual review process has not been completed by DV (or Enhanced SC) staff, this will bring into question the individual’s suitability to retain security clearance. Departments and industry partners will have discretion to suspend or lapse an individual’s clearance as appropriate (industry partners should work with the relevant government department to agree the best approach and ensure relevant information on individual cases is shared). In all instances where no action has been taken to complete a SAF, following reasonable reminders, departments will be expected to take action, including to suspend or lapse an individual’s clearance where appropriate.
Transferring an NSV clearance
If you hold an NSV clearance and you transfer or move to a new organisation, there may be a continuing requirement for you to hold a security clearance either at the same or lower level. Examples include;
- a government employee leaves the organisation and joins a different government department
- service personnel leave one branch of Her Majesty’s Forces (HMF) and transfer to another service or moves on to a role in defence industry or as a MOD civilian
- an employee of a defence contractor moves to another job and is employed by a different contractor.
In these situations, the new employing sponsor submits a request to us for the security clearance to be transferred. The ‘Transfer’ request allows us to assess whether the clearance is eligible for transfer and enables the outcome to be recorded against the correct sponsor. The request can be for the security clearance to be at the same level issued to the original sponsor or at a lower level, based on the needs of the new sponsor. An example of this would be when the SC element of a DV clearance is needed by the new sponsor. It is for the sponsor to set out what is required and for us to consider whether the request for transfer can be met.
Further information can be found in UKSV National Security Vetting: aftercare information
Extraction of SC from DV clearance
Where you hold DV clearance which has expired, or is no longer required, the underlying SC element can be extracted to extend the expiry date at a lower level of clearance. This can be arranged through your sponsor, where required.
Further information can be found in UKSV National Security Vetting: aftercare information