March 30th, 2021 | Sterling

Background Checks: What does BPSS, BS7858, SMCR and DBS mean?

Within the employment and background screening landscape many acronyms and terms exist, which can cause confusion. From screening standards such as BPSS, BS7858, and the many levels of a DBS Check, to the SMCR within the financial services industry. While some of these terms may look familiar, others may not – however, if you know what they mean and how best to use them, you’re one step ahead.

Sterling is here to help. In this post we’ll bust the jargon and dive into the true meaning of these screening standards, reflecting on what each one means, how best you can integrate them into your screening programme, and direct you to some of our useful resources to help.

What is a BPSS Clearance?

Established by the British government, a BPSS clearance is a type of Security Standard. Also known in full as The Baseline Personnel Security Standard, it is the minimum level of check required for those that access government assets. This covers roles including civil servants, those enlisted in the armed forces, and more generally government contractors. Learn more in our previous blog about the developments around the BPSS clearance and why this has seen an uptick in demand in recent times.

As the name suggests, a BPSS clearance is the most basic of four levels of personnel control and represents a prerequisite for higher levels of national Security Checks (SC) and Developed Vetting (DV). With the ultimate intention of protecting national security, a BPSS check aims to safeguard the country and community at large from any untoward dangers.

A compliant BPSS clearance with Sterling includes the following elements:

About the BS7858 Standard

The BS7858 Standard is a code of practice established by The British Standards Institution. This details best practice recommendations for screening individuals who intend to or are currently working within secure environments. The standard has broadened in scope from security roles to a variety of industry sectors considered secure, for example to individuals with access to sensitive information and working within critical infrastructure sites.

With a key aim of mitigating insider fraud, which accounts for 52% of all global fraud, the BS7858 standard offers a robust solution to help combat the risks. These risks include releasing propriety or confidential information or the manipulating of data for personal gain, all of which could have adverse effects for any organization. We documented some of the key changes to BS7858 in our previous blog.

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

Sterling offers additions that can be included within a BS7858 package, such as:

What is the SMCR?

The SMCR is an acronym which stands for Senior Managers and Certification Regime. This is a set of regulations that was developed to further increase the personal accountability of senior staff in the financial services sector. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Prudential Regulation Authority have issued SMCR guidance to determine which individuals would be subject to the Senior Manager’s Regime or the Certification Regime.

Sterling can help you determine if this is relevant for your organization as well as identify the types of checks required for the roles in question – keen to discuss the SMCR further? Get in touch and we’ll send you a copy of our SMCR guide detailing the changes brought in, the services we offer and provide some of the answers to your frequently asked questions.

What is a DBS Check?

A DBS Check is an official certificate that states a person’s criminal convictions and cautions if they have any. DBS stands for The Disclosure and Barring Service, which is a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Home Office of the United Kingdom. They are responsible for carrying out criminal record checks across England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

Why do you need a DBS Check?

At a higher level, the main purpose of a DBS check is to safeguard, preventing unsuitable individuals working with vulnerable groups such as children – this also helps employers make safer and more informed hiring decisions.

There are three main types of DBS check: a Basic DBS, a standard DBS, and an enhanced DBS check. Here, we’ll look at the differences between them:

A Basic DBS Check

The most common type of disclosure is the Basic DBS Check. This can be used for any purpose such as employment, and details convictions and conditional cautions that are considered unspent under the terms stated in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974.

A Standard DBS Check

A standard disclosure is only appropriate for certain roles, for example a security guard, as certain DBS eligibility criteria must be met. Unlike a Basic DBS check, the certificate contains information on both spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and warnings that are stored on the Police National Computer (PNC).

An Enhanced DBS Check

This type of check is suitable for those individuals working within vulnerable settings including healthcare and personal care – particularly with children or elderly adults. Under an Enhanced DBS check, the same details as a standard certificate apply, including all spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands, and warnings on the Police National Computer (PNC). Where it differs is that an Enhanced check may also contain non-conviction local police force information. Based upon the address provided by the candidate, the disclosure is sent to the Chief Constable or Chief Officer in the corresponding location. If it’s relevant for the position in question, the Chief can choose to add any non-conviction information (e.g. suspicions) to the certificate.

Sterling is recognized by the UK Government as a “responsible organisation”, meaning that an employer is able to apply for a criminal record check through Sterling, who will liaise directly with the Disclosure and Barring Service. We also work closely with Disclosure Scotland, Access NI, and a wealth of global bodies, allowing criminal record checks to be conducted throughout the world. Our team of experts can help you determine the correct level of criminal record check required for any role, and are happy to discuss or provide additional information at a global or national level to support your hiring programmed.

While there are plenty of acronyms to consider, if there are any you’re still unsure of or would like to know more about, we can help answer your questions – just get in touch!.

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.