August 29th, 2019 | Sterling

BS7858 Security Screening Explained

Security Officer

A Summary of BS7858

BS7858 was published by the British standards Institution (BSI) in October 2012, although it came into effect on 1 May 2013. This represents the fourth edition, strengthening the previous 2006 standard and providing further insight into how members of the security workforce should be vetted.

This screening standard has a focus on the pre-employment screening of individuals working within security environments and gives best-practice recommendations. More specifically, it delves into the requirements of individuals that are employed or work within environments where security and the safety of people, goods or property are a requirement of the employing organisation, or where security is in the public interest. This extends to operations within data security, sensitive information, service contracts and confidential records.

Who Does it Cover?

The orientation of the standard centres around the security industry. It is regulated by the Security Industry Authority (SIA) and endorsed by trade associations such as the National security inspectorate. As such, security companies form a significant proportion of the organisations utilising the standard, but it is also widely used within industries where security services overlap, such as hospitality and events or secure logistics. Typical roles and areas covered by the standard include ancillary staff, acquisitions and transfers, and the security conditions of contractors and subcontractors.

Much like the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS), the adoption of the BS7858 has become widely adopted as it provides a comprehensive and robust benchmark organisations can mirror. There is an increasing acknowledgement from hiring organisations that the contingence workforce, including third-party contractors, should be screened to the same standards as their own employees. Ultimately, many of these workers will still have the same level of access to company resources and information.

Position Your Organisation as One of the Best in the Industry

As detailed by the SIA, The private security industry Act 2001 mandates the SIA to establish a “system of inspection for providers of security services, under which those organisations who satisfactorily meet the agreed standards may be registered as approved, and may advertise themselves as such.” This is known as the Approved Contractors Scheme (ACS), and has the primary objectives of raising industry performance standards and aiding in the development of new opportunities. In order to gain ACS accreditation, in addition to meeting the fit and proper conditions, an organisation must conform to ACS standards. As documented by the SIA, British standards are encompassed within the ACS, which includes standards such as BS7858. The importance of participating in the scheme and having a presence on the ACS register is further highlighted by the SIA as organisations have therefore “distinguished themselves as being amongst the best providers of private security services in the UK.” It is also important to note that this scheme is entirely voluntary. If a company chooses to outsource their pre-employment screening as part of the ACS, guidance from the SIA suggest that where a British standard code of practice exists, the organisation should aim to work to towards BS7858 or the appropriate industry sector equivalent.

Additionally, according to the SIA at a micro level, whilst BS7858 remains a best-practice recommendation, it is not necessarily required in order for an individual to obtain an SIA license. It is possible that a security operative may have gained an SIA license, but may not meet the thorough standards of BS7858.

It was previously proposed  that in order to obtain a business license from 6 April 2015 onwards, security industry services would need to conform with the relevant British standards and the fit and proper conditions, much like the ACS. Failure to comply would have made it a criminal offence to supply individuals for security industry services without the appropriate SIA business license, which could have led to prosecution and the possibility of unlimited fines. However, this proposal failed to come into fruition, with the Home Office continuing to work with the security industry and security industry authority on the development of regulations for the private security industry. To date, there have been no publicised plans to move forward on this, and so it remains to be seen if developments are actually on the way.

What Services Are Involved?

An organisation may prefer to partner with a trusted background screening company, working collaboratively to determine whether a full BS7858 service is required to the exact standard. Your organisation may wish to adopt a package of services based around the standard. A package that is fully compliant with the BS7858 standard would consist of:

  • Basic Criminal Record Check – Search for ‘unspent’ convictions
  • Credit Enquiry – Credit Score, ID Verification, Electoral Roll Verification, Address Verification, CCJ, Bankruptcy, Insolvency and IVA Search
  • Employment Check – 5-Year Written Employment Verification with Gap Verification
  • Character Reference – Typically covers candidate strengths, areas for growth, adaptability and integrity
  • Right to Work Check – Verification of Nationality, ID documentation and Immigration status

Does BS7858 form a crucial part of your screening programme?  Contact us today to find out more.

This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.