Background Screening Services UK: A summary

BS 7858:2019

bpss checks

BSI logoFCA logoPBSA - background screening services UK

Today we’ll be taking a look at all the major background checking services in the UK. We’ll provide a summary of all the packages of checks you’re likely to encounter if you venture into the world of background screening services. Before we begin, we have separate articles that go into more detail on various different background checks and screening packages, including:

If you’d more in-depth information, feel free to consult these articles, or to ring our office on 01732 748900. We’re always happy to provide expert information.

Firstly, one of the most common package of checks you’re likely to encounter is the BPSS. This is the Baseline Personnel Security Standard, and it’s the basic level of clearance for all civil servants and government contractors. Because it’s a fairly comprehensive check, it’s also become somewhat of an industry standard even amongst private companies. It comprises of:

  1. Identity: ID Data check (electronic authentication of identity – name, address, links, aliases, accounts, etc.)
  2. Right to Work: Verification of Nationality, ID documentation, and Immigration status (if relevant)
  3. Criminal records: Checks for unspent convictions (Basic Disclosure) – previously known as CRB checks
  4. Employment checks: Verification of at least the last 3 years of employment activity

Secondly, another of the most common background screening services carried out in the UK: the BS:7858, or the British Standard. This is a requirement for companies whose employees work in a secure environment. It’s regulated by the British Standards Institution (BSI), who publish more information about it here. The basics of the check are:

  • Financial & Address Check – 5 Year Address Verification, Bankruptcy and CCJ information.
  • Basic Level Criminal Record Check (Basic CRC) – Unspent convictions, conducted either through The DBS, Disclosure Scotland or AccessNI
  • 5 Year History Check – References are obtained in writing for all periods of education, employment, self-employment and unemployment. All gaps over 31 days within the 5 year vetting period are verified.
  • Global Sanction & Compliance Database Check – A search against a consolidated database of information, including the HM Treasury Financial Sanctions List, United Nations and European Union, for inclusion in governmental sanctions, enforcements, watch-lists and blacklists as well as criminality.

Thirdly, potentially the most complex of the common background screening services you are likely to encounter. They are used to satisfy the Financial Conduct Authority’s “fit and proper” requirement. As the FCA’s purpose is to make sure financial markets run fairly, they regular over 60,000 organisation. Due to not being a fixed standard, the requirements vary from organisation to organisation. As such, we recommend you contact someone who can advise you on the most appropriate package of checks for your company. Credence has a long history of providing these checks and can provide any necessary assistance. However, the requirements are:

  • “Fit and Proper” Test – makes sure a candidate meets, and can maintain the criteria for approval. Furthermore, it reports anything that could affect ongoing suitability.
  • Compliance with the Code of Practice
  • Compliance with the Statement of Principle
  • Having conducted and passed an FCA screening
  • The employing company applies for checks on behalf of the employee

A package can of checks can be put together to fulfil this requirement.

If you’re searching for background screening services when hiring for a senior position, this is probably where you’ll end up. The checks help minimise the risk to your company. For example, imagine making a directorship appointment only to find out that Companies House disqualifies them. Not only will this have been a huge waste of time, but it could also seriously impact the reputation of your company. Furthermore, it’s useful for assessing potential business partners, as well as for credit agencies when making a lending decision.

Click to see a sample of the directorship section of one of Credence’s final reports. This will usually be part of a wider package of checks that we include in the report. You can see that the candidate has no negative information against them. They are not disqualified, and the dates of their previous director post are visible, as well as the company name and number. However, this particular sample is for a UK check, so the information comes from Companies House.

Types of (Social) Media Screening

Finally, the last of the common background screening services we’ll cover in this post looks at media. Moreover, recently, companies are increasingly requesting social media screening as a part of their new employee checks.

Adverse/Negative Media  Our negative media searches, look into sources of subscribed database fed by millions of worldwide news articles which, includes licensed publications, websites, blogs, images and videos etc. If there are many hits, we will input the candidate’s name and then a list of search strings (words such as banned, fraud, drugs, arrested, prison, fines, court, jury etc. etc.), so the search will pick up all articles with the candidate’s name and any of the words mentioned in the search strings.

Social Media Review  The social media searches involve accessing the candidate’s social media accounts such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to look for and report on any adverse views, comments and photos. We would specifically look for anything to do with drugs, racism, extreme political views, violence, sexism and also specific searches about our client’s business and anything else that could bring their organisation into disrepute.

Full Internet Search Lastly, an internet search would be a full search on the internet to find anything that your employee has written or has been linked to that may be of interest to you. We would look at published press articles, websites, blogs, forums etc. and report all of our findings in one report, highlighting any main points of interest.