Security Screening

BS 7858

Security Screening

This British Standard gives recommendations for the security screening of individuals to be employed in an environment where the security and/or safety of people, goods and services, personal data or property is a requirement of the employing organisation’s operations and/or where such security screening is in the public and/or corporate interest.


BS 7858 states in Section 3 under risk management – “An organisation should not employ individuals whose career or history indicates that they would be unsuitable for the role, given that such employment might allow opportunities for illicit personal gain, or the possibilities of being compromised, or opportunities for creating any other breaches of security.”

BS 7858 provides a structured code of practice for the security screening of individuals employed in a security environment. This does not only apply to staff employed in private security firms or firms installing security equipment. Many staff who work in the removals industry potentially have access to customer and system records, for example whilst moving crated files during a commercial move. Others may work in central or local Government buildings and departments. BS 7858 is highly worthwhile as it allows for staff to be screened to a much higher degree than a standard criminal records check.


Some elements of the standard are mandatory and, during certification audits, any shortcoming against those will result in a “nonconformity” which will have to be remedied before a certificate is issued. In other areas, the standard is less prescriptive giving recommendations for best practice. When assessing a company’s performance against those, an auditor can show greater flexibility and if there is room for improvement the report will include appropriate recommendations and these will be followed up during the next year’s audit.


The standard covers the following areas:

  • Risk management – looking at who you should and should not employ
  • A screening process to look at the integrity, honesty and impartiality of staff employed
  • An organisations administrative capacity to hold data securely, review the screening function, individually recording/holding data per employee including noting the stage of the screening process and, on an employee’s employment termination, for any reason, how data is dealt with
  • Types of evidence required from referees to meet requirements and ensuring staff being screened are aware of what checks are being made
  • What information will be checked to meet the requirement of the standard
  • Required periods of career history of people being checked and time periods within which checks have to be completed including verification and review of screening process
  • Requirements in the event of acquisition and transfer of business or use of sub-contractors
  • Training requirements and periods records have to be retained following cessation of employment

When an organisation engages QSS to complete an assessment and certification process an “Initial Assessment” will be carried out to audit the company’s compliance against the entire standard. Following this (and subject to the clearance of any nonconformities) a certificate will be issued, usually valid for 12 months. Annual assessments are then carried out normally leading to renewal of certification for a further 12 months (subject to any nonconformities).


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