COVID-19 Update: Sterling is continuing to fulfil the vast majority of background checks with minimal disruption. For additional info on how Sterling is handling the COVID-19 situation, please visit our COVID-19 page.

April 17th, 2020 | Sterling

BS7858 Secure Screening Explained

BS7858 Secure Screening Explained

What is BS7858?

During these uncertain times, and with the situation seemingly changing day to day, it can be difficult to stay up to date with recent developments. However, with the aim of keeping you abreast of the latest changes, on the 31st March 2020, the former BS7858:2012 standard was withdrawn, and superseded by an updated version which was introduced on the 30th September 2019. BS7858 has undergone multiple revisions over the years by the British standards Institution.

Whilst the previous screening standard focused on pre-employment background checks of individuals working within security environments, the scope has now broadened. This now encompasses an array of industries outside of the previously utilised security sectors (and those that overlap), and now extends to any individuals working within a secure environment. It’s anticipated that BS7858 will become the gold standard of screening.

Who Does the BS7858 Screening Standard Cover?

The orientation of the standard centres around companies that hire individuals working within secure environments. Prior to the revision, security organisations formed a significant proportion of those utilising the standard. It was also widely used within industries where security services overlap, such as hospitality and events or secure logistics. Whilst the standard may still apply to the typical roles and areas previously covered, including ancillary staff, acquisitions and transfers, and the security conditions of contractors and subcontractors, it is anticipated that the roles in question will go beyond those previously mentioned.

As reflected in these changes, there is now greater emphasis on top management within the screening process to ensure maximum effectiveness. This includes putting in place the appropriate resources as necessary and being responsible for risks within that process, even if they choose to outsource.

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

What Services Are Involved for BS7858?

Employers 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 also wish to adopt a package of services based around the standard. In addition, following the updates, the requirement of a character reference is no longer necessary, and references are no longer required in writing (verbal references will suffice as long as certain provisions are met).

A package designed to meet the requirements (for non-security roles) of the BS7858 standard may consist of:

However, organisations should consult with their legal counsel to determine which package best suits their needs.

For security roles, a package that includes a Security Industry Authority (SIA) License search, may be a suitable option for your organisation. An SIA license aims to determine if private security operatives are “fit and proper”, have a sufficient level of training, and have the necessary qualifications in order to carry out their duties. More information on the specifics of the SIA licensing can be found here. Whilst social media checks are not a provision of this new standard, they can be used in addition to provide a more informed employment decision – although care must be taken to avoid unlawful discrimination.

Could BS7858 form a crucial part of your screening programme? If you’d like to contrast and compare the standard against BPSS our blog may help answer some of your burning questions – Learn more today!

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.