Legal and Professional Standards Department - Management vetting procedure (P04c)
P04c Management Vetting
1. Summary of Changes
1.1. This Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) was reviewed in November 2021, the following amendments have been made:
Bullet point removed from paragraph 3.9;
Paragraphs 3.32 and 3.47 amended.
2. What this Procedure is About
2.1. The purpose of Management Vetting (MV) is to provide a degree of assurance as to the reliability and trustworthiness of those who have wider access to Force intelligence, financial or operational assets, including documents and information held on computer databases. The procedure serves to reduce the risks of unauthorised disclosure or loss of sensitive police assets.
2.2. Posts where individuals require this level of access will be designated for management vetting. All persons serving in those posts will be required to obtain management vetting clearance. (See the ‘Force Vetting Guide for Designated Posts – Your Questions Answered’, available on request from the Central Vetting Unit, Force Headquarters). When completing relevant questionnaires, it is important that members of staff have the opportunity to disclose personal information in confidence, in the knowledge they will receive a sympathetic response. It will only be in the most serious cases that consideration will be given to refusing vetting clearance. The knowledge that information has been provided strengthens individuals’ resolve to challenge approaches to them for the unauthorised disclosure of information, or other benefits.
2.3. Vetting questionnaires will be retained in confidence within the Professional Standards Department by the Central Vetting Unit on the vetting database, Corevet. The Vetting Team Leaders are responsible for the administration of the procedure. Information contained in the questionnaires will not be disclosed to outside agencies.
Compliance with this SOP and any governing policy is mandatory.
3. Detail the Procedure
3.1. MV applies to 'designated' posts requiring a higher level of Force vetting. In addition to MV, Security Check (SC) will be required for staff serving with Special Branch, Covert Support and other designated posts.
3.2. As an MV clearance is a pre-requisite of employment in ‘designated’ posts, applicants who refuse to undertake the procedure will not be considered for appointment.
3.3 If police officers already serving in designated posts refuse to partake in, fail the vetting process, or have their vetting clearance withdrawn, they will be transferred to a non-designated post. However, for police staff, contractual conditions may make their redeployment more difficult and may, in the most extreme cases, require termination of their contract. This decision would only be made following consultation with the Director of Human Resources and the relevant staff association or union representative as appropriate.
3.4 In relation to National Security Vetting (NSV), MV is a prerequisite to SC clearance.
3.5 MV clearance allows long-term, frequent and uncontrolled access to SECRET and occasional access to TOP SECRET police assets.
3.6 SC clearance allows long-term, frequent and uncontrolled access to SECRET and occasional, supervised access to TOP SECRET government assets.
3.7 The MV process is the responsibility of the Vetting Team Leaders, Central Vetting Unit.
Management Vetting Process
3.8 The Vetting Team Leaders will maintain a list of designated posts and, together with the Force Vetting Manager, will review posts as appropriate to ensure that those carrying a higher level of risk are designated for either MV or MV/SC vetting.
3.9 Those seeking MV clearance will be required to complete an MV personal information form and a financial questionnaire. Both documents include a written authorisation for checks and associated enquiries to be carried out including:
Proof of residence;
PNC (Police National Computer);
Local intelligence database;
PND (Police National Database);
Other Forces (where appropriate);
Criminal contacts or associates;
Professional Standards (complaints and discipline and intelligence databases) (where appropriate);
Personal finances (includes Experian Credit Reference check);
Open Source checks;
Enquiries with current and former supervisors;
Conduct which could lead to vulnerability to pressure or inducements (includes the indiscriminate use of alcohol or drugs, gambling, sexual or other);
Enquiries and interviews with current and former supervisors. (Interviews to be conducted at the discretion of the Vetting Team Leader);
Interviews with persons subject of the vetting procedure. (Interviews to be conducted at the discretion of the Vetting Team Leader);
Business Interest/Secondary Employment check
3.10 To ensure the confidentiality of the information contained in the personal information form, individuals may complete their current details at question PI 1 and then request their line manager to complete question PI 3 (proof of identity), before they complete the remainder of the form. When completed the forms should be returned to the Central Vetting Unit, Force Headquarters.
Restrictions on employment
3.11 Persons on work experience or those under 17 years of age should not be employed in departments or units that include designated posts, because of a lack of relevant background information.
3.12 Unless dispensation is received from the Force Vetting Manager, vetting clearance must be obtained before new members of staff, or temporary/agency workers are permitted to work in designated posts. Any limitations to the vetting clearance will be stated in writing. Existing members of staff will be permitted to remain in designated posts whilst the vetting procedure is carried out. Financial checks
3.13 The purpose of financial checks is to assess whether applicants are in serious financial difficulty, or through their financial history or current financial circumstances, show signs of financial irresponsibility; to the extent they could become vulnerable to financial inducement.
3.14 The financial questionnaire seeks to gather information in the following areas:
Indications of previous financial unreliability.
Indicators of integrity in respect of declarations made.
Problems meeting current commitments.
Indications of poor financial judgement.
Potential for future financial difficulties.
Assets possibly inconsistent with income.
Potential conflict of interest.
3.15 The following factors may, through dishonesty or lack of integrity, result in a decision of unfitness for employment in ‘designated’ posts:
Past infringement of security or vetting policy or procedures.
Significant or repeated breaches of discipline.
Providing false or deliberately misleading information, or omitting significant information from the vetting questionnaires.
Unauthorised association with persons with previous convictions or reasonably suspected of being involved in crime.
Criminal convictions, cautions or other judicial findings.
Circumstances that may impair judgement.
3.16 The following circumstances are regarded as likely to impair judgement, or may result in vulnerability to pressure or inducements:
Substantial financial difficulties or debts.
Compulsive drinking or gambling.
Abuse of controlled or prescribed drugs.
When Occupational Health certifies that employment in such posts could present a risk to the confidentiality, integrity or availability of intelligence assets through defects in judgement. (In these circumstances Occupational Health will advise the post holders to notify their immediate or senior supervisors, and will notify the Force Vetting Manager of the decision).
3.17 In making an assessment as to whether or not to grant MV clearance, the following matters will be taken into consideration:
The security implications of any adverse information obtained during the vetting process. (For example, it may be necessary to give greater weight to some factors than to others).
A careful assessment of the significance of any past conduct or circumstances.
Distinctions will be drawn between isolated or minor blemishes on an individual’s record, and information pointing to habitual or significant vulnerabilities.
3.18 The purpose of MV is to provide a means of ensuring that persons serving in ‘designated’ posts, with access to sensitive police information, intelligence, financial or operational assets, have been assessed as to their reliability and integrity.
3.19 During the course of the vetting process applicants are asked to provide details about their financial circumstances. This information is the subject of an Experian credit reference check. As employees are most vulnerable when they have large debts that they cannot repay, the purpose of financial enquiries is to ensure applicants have direct or indirect access to sufficient funds to minimise the risk of vulnerability to financial inducement. Where anomalies are noted between their declaration and the information provided by the credit reference check, or where there is a need to clarify a particular issue, individuals may have to be interviewed. In some cases, the necessary information may be obtained by speaking to the applicant by telephone.
3.20 When financial information has been provided ‘in confidence’ as part of the vetting process, the risk of compromise is significantly reduced. Applicants should be reassured that there is no need to be concerned about mortgage and credit card commitments that are in line with their income, provided they have the ability and expressed intention to meet the commitments. Debts only become a problem where they are substantial, and members of staff fail to take remedial action or where they are caused by compulsive behaviour, for example, excessive gambling.
3.21 Where issues are identified during the vetting process, the Vetting Team Leader may wish to discuss the issue with the applicant. Rather than refusing clearance, consideration may be given to allowing clearance subject to management and individuals’ actions to manage the financial risks. Support to individuals can be provided through welfare considerations or by discussing the issue with their line managers, with the agreement of the individual. If the applicant refuses to consent to such a management process MV clearance is likely to be refused. Should a management strategy be agreed, but the individual fails to meet any of the obligations set, clearance may be withdrawn.
3.22 If line managers become aware that members of staff have financial difficulties they should explore the issues with them and seek welfare intervention at an early stage. The Vetting Team Leader should also be advised.
Following a decision to grant clearance
3.23 The Vetting Team Leader will ensure that in cases where clearance is granted, any reservations or limitations are clearly recorded, and clearances notified in writing to HR Recruitment and the vetting subject, if an internal candidate. The subject should be made aware that any limitations would be notified to their line management.
3.24 In notifying individuals that vetting clearance has been granted, they will be reminded of their responsibilities for protecting both Force and National Security assets, and of the requirements of the Data Protection Act, Official Secrets Act, Computer Misuse Act and Force security policies and procedures.
3.25 Notification of vetting clearance will be by way of a vetting clearance certificate that includes a security reminder sent to the vetting subject for internal candidates and by way of an email to HR Recruitment for new recruits. Details of the vetting clearance will be retained on Corevet, the Central Vetting database.
3.26 If clearance is refused, or there are any limitations to the clearance, individuals will be informed, and where possible, provided with an explanation. However, there may be circumstances, for example, in cases where notification could prejudice a criminal or disciplinary inquiry, or when disclosure would breach the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA) as it relates to the relevant parts of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), or the Law of Enforcement Directive (LED), or other legislation, where information may be withheld. In addition, information provided by third parties will only be disclosed to the subject if the person who has provided the information agrees to its disclosure.
Vetting Refusals, Withdrawals and Lapses
3.27 Individuals requiring MV clearance who transfer to ‘non-designated’ posts will retain their vetting clearance for 12 months from the date of transfer. At that time the clearance will lapse. Annual assessments and aftercare will no longer apply. If they transfer back to an MV vetted post, within a 12-month period, the original clearance date will remain valid, subject to the satisfactory completion of an annual assessment form, declaring any changes from the information already provided. Each case will be dealt with on its merits. However, if any security concerns are identified, the full MV process may be completed at that time. In cases where members of the Force are working away from the Force in non-designated posts for 12 months or more, their vetting clearances will lapse and re-vetting will be necessary.
3.28 If individuals with MV clearance transfer or commence a secondment to a post in another Force or agency that requires MV clearance, their vetting status will remain valid until the renewal date, subject to the satisfactory completion of an annual assessment, managed by the receiving force. However, the receiving Force retains the right to require an individual to complete the full MV process, if a security concern is identified.
3.29 Lapses usually occur when persons leave the Force, or transfer to non-designated posts. Vetting will lapse when the designated time periods have expired and the vetting clearance has not been renewed.
3.30 In cases where persons holding vetting clearances are required to resign or are dismissed from the Police Service, their vetting clearance will lapse immediately. In cases involving National Security Vetting, the Security Service should be notified immediately by the Central Vetting Unit.
3.31 Over time, all personnel are likely to experience changes to their personal circumstances. Due to this, there is a requirement for the holder of Management Vetting (MV), Security Check (SC) and Developed Vetting (DV) to notify the Central Vetting Unit of any relevant changes, immediately they occur. Failure to do so could result in the withdrawal of the vetting clearance. Withdrawals can also result from adverse information coming to light following the granting of a vetting clearance. It should be noted that withdrawals would only take place as a last resort, after a risk assessment has been carried out and having considered any contractual impacts.
3.32 Following the conclusion of a misconduct hearing or meeting where the officer, special constable or member of staff is not dismissed but has been issued with a written warning or a final written warning, a review of vetting clearance should be carried out. The review includes a consideration of the applicant’s suitability to maintain the level of clearance held and to continue in the post they occupy. The HR Partner or HR Adviser will notify the Central Vetting Unit, by way of an e-mail sent to Vetting, of disciplinary outcomes for Police staff employees and the Conduct Investigations team will provide notification in respect of Police Officers and members of the Special Constabulary. As higher level vetting is designed to provide a degree of assurance as to the reliability and trustworthiness of an individual, relevant issues will include honesty and integrity, and misuse of computer systems.
3.33 If an existing employee disputes a decision to refuse or withdraw an MV clearance, a written request for an appeal may be forwarded to the Head of Professional Standards within 14 days of receipt of a written notification of the decision. The Deputy Chief Constable (DCC), or during periods of absence, another NPCC officer, will review the case as promptly as possible. The Force Vetting Manager will provide the officer reviewing the case with the individual’s personal vetting file. The personal vetting file will include a summary of the case and the rationale for the vetting decision. When the officer reviewing the case has examined the personal vetting file, he or she will arrange a meeting with the appellant. For staff in the employment of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), a member of the PCC’s Office will be invited to participate in the process, reflecting that the PCC is the employer for that member of staff. At the meeting, the appellant will be given the opportunity to make personal representation, and may be accompanied by a workplace colleague or staff association representative. The officer conducting the appeal will provide the appellant with a written statement outlining the result of the appeal. The decision reached will be final. For police staff, representation rights are contained in section 10(3) Employment Relations Act 1999. Some individuals also have the right of recourse to an Employment Tribunal.
3.34 External applicants are able to submit an appeal against decisions made to refuse MV clearance by sending a written request seeking a review to the Force Vetting Manager within 14 days of receipt of the written notification of the decision. The review will be conducted by the The Force Vetting Manager as promptly as possible. There is no right of personal representation.
3.35 If the Force Vetting Manager is not available or has been involved in the original decision, the review will be carried out by the Head of Professional Standards. The applicant will be provided with a written statement outlining the result of the review. The decision reached will be final.
3.36 MV clearances should be renewed every 7 years. However, any clearance may be reviewed at an earlier stage especially if adverse information comes to light relating to the subject, or there is a material change in an individual’s personal circumstances.
3.37 Changes in the personal circumstances of individuals holding an MV, SC or DV clearance may impact upon their continued suitability to hold that clearance. They must therefore report any relevant changes, including spouses, partners or civil partners, changes of address, criminal associations, cautions or other judicial findings, or other matters relating to the risk factors outlined above, in writing, to the Central Vetting Unit. Failure to do so could result in the withdrawal of their vetting clearance. However, staff should be aware that notifications will be met with a sympathetic response, and that it would only be in the most serious cases that consideration would be given to the withdrawal of the vetting clearance.
3.38 It is the responsibility of line managers to ensure that the Central Vetting Unit is notified of any relevant changes of circumstances of any members of staff coming to their attention.
3.39 Post holders are reminded of the requirement to notify changes in the information contained in their clearance certificates and annual appraisal forms, to the Central Vetting Unit.
3.40 Members of staff subject of an MV vetting clearance will be required to complete a vetting appraisal form every 12 months. The form will remind individuals of the risk factors, relevant legislation and policy, and their responsibilities for protecting intelligence assets. They will be required to notify relevant changes to their personal circumstances that have not previously been notified in compliance with this policy, or confirm that there are no relevant changes to report. Supervisors completing the annual appraisal will note on the form any relevant information they have acquired during the appraisal period that relates to the above-mentioned risk factors that have not already been notified to the Central Vetting Unit.
3.41 The completed vetting appraisal form will be forwarded to the Central Vetting Unit for consideration and confidential retention in individuals’ Corevet vetting records.
3.42 Individuals with MV clearance who transfer to a non-designated post will retain their vetting clearance for up to 12 months from the date of transfer from the designated post. At that time the clearance will lapse. Annual assessments and aftercare will no longer apply after individuals leave an MV post. If they transfer back to an MV post within 12 months of leaving, their MV clearance will remain valid until the renewal period, subject to an annual assessment.
3.43 If an individual with MV clearance transfers to another Force or agency, the vetting status will remain valid until the renewal date, subject to the satisfactory completion of an annual assessment form, for the information of the receiving Force. The receiving Force, however, retains the right to require an individual to complete the full MV process.
Inappropriate approaches for information
3.44 Inappropriate approaches to members of staff, whether serving in a designated post or not, by colleagues or members of the public seeking the unauthorised disclosure of information, or other benefits, should be reported immediately to a supervisor. Supervisors notified of such matters will immediately refer them to the Detective Inspector (DI), Professional Standards Department (PSD) Counter Corruption Unit. In turn the DI, PSD Counter Corruption Unit, will notify the Vetting Team Leader about those serving in designated vetted posts.
3.45 It is the duty of all members of staff, whether or not serving in designated posts, to be vigilant to the above mentioned risk factors. They are required to notify the Central Vetting Unit and their immediate or senior line manager of any matters that could affect an individual’s vetting clearance or the security of intelligence assets. Supervisors notified of such matters will immediately refer them to the Central Vetting Unit in respect of vetting issues, and the DI, PSD Counter Corruption Unit, in respect of other matters.
3.46 Personal, financial and security questionnaires are important and confidential documents. They contain sensitive and personal information, and a signed declaration by the individual, confirming an agreement for vetting checks to be undertaken. Questionnaires will be retained in confidence within the Professional Standards Department by the Central Vetting Unit, in individual personal vetting files on Corevet. The questionnaires will be disposed of, together with the remainder of the file, in accordance with the criteria outlined below. Information contained in the files will not be disclosed to outside agencies, other than by order of court, or where the vetting subject moves to another Force or agency when the vetting record will transfer with them.
Retention of records
3.47 Documents mentioned in the above SOP will be retained as follows:
6 years after clearance refused or withdrawn.
6 years after leaving the Force.
6 years after transferring out of a designated vetted post.
6 years after clearance refused or withdrawn.
7 years after the individual has retired or left.
6 years after transferring out of a Security vetted post.
3.48 The CVU will maintain a confidential central vetting database including all Management Vetting cases.
3.49. The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 places a duty upon specified authorities (which includes the Police) to ensure that their functions are discharged having due regard to the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. Our staff are not immune from radicalisation, therefore if such concerns regarding an individual or institution are identified, these should be referred to the Kent Police Prevent Team via the FIMU at Kent SB JIU.
4. Equality Impact Assessment
4.1. An Equality Impact Assessment has been carried out and shows the proposals in this policy would have no potential or actual differential impact on grounds of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, transgender, disability, age, religion or belief or sexual orientation.
5. Risk Assessment
5.1 This SOP has been assessed as medium risk.
Central Vetting Unit
Health and Safety
7. Other Source Documents
8.1 Kent Police has measures in place to protect the security of your data in accordance with our Information Management Policy (Policy W1000 – Information Management).
9. Retention and Disposal of Records
9.1 Kent Police will hold data in accordance with our Records Review, Retention and Disposal Policy (Policy W1012 – Records Review, Retention and Disposal).