Update to security clearance guidance

The government has released previously unseen details about working in security cleared roles, in a policy update designed to make the national vetting system more transparent.

Fed into a new Cabinet Office booklet on security clearance, the fresh information and advice "clearly underlines some important considerations that the statement[s] it replaces did not."

Chief among them, its authors added, is the instance where job candidates with no existing security clearance, or with clearance for a lower level environment, are denied from applying for the role.

This is known as the 'Catch 22' because, since the initial guidance in 1994, contractors cannot obtain work without a security clearance, but they cannot obtain a clearance without work.

According to the new booklet, HMG Personnel Security Controls , a candidate should not be expected to hold an existing clearance for a job or contract, apart from in "exceptional circumstances."

Despite the updated guidance containing additional details about the vetting system's workings, those circumstances have not changed, as they apply where the role is "short term" and needs "to be filled urgently."

So while "this clear articulation of vetting policy" is particularly aimed at helping the sub-contracts market, there is "no substantive change to the policy on security vetting", officials said.

Elsewhere in the booklet, the government makes clear its policy is to judge each case "on its own merits" where applications for clearances are from people who have a criminal record.

The likely assessment criteria for such individuals is explained in the update's FAQ section, which also lists how other personal factors, such as duration of living in the UK and being "politically active", may or may not impact a candidate's application.

Editor's Note: Further Reading -

Security clearance 'still a barrier' to IT contractors


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