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Police Vetting Process: What You Need to Know

Vetting is a crucial part of the application process for police officers, as it helps ensure that those selected for the role are trustworthy and responsible.

The article will cover a range of topics related to police vetting, including the different levels of vetting, why police officers need to be vetted, and what is checked during the vetting process. It will also answer some frequently asked questions about police vetting, such as when applicants can expect to receive their vetting forms, how long vetting checks typically take, and whether it is possible to appeal the result of a vetting decision.

What Are The Levels of Vetting?

There are different levels of the United Kingdom Security Vetting. The level of vetting also determines how often the vetting process has to be renewed.

The table below shows the different levels of vetting and the minimum number of years of residency required in the UK for each level:

Vetting LevelMinimum number of years’ residency in the UK
Recruitment Vetting (RV)Three years
Management Vetting (MV)Five years
Non-police Personnel Vetting (volunteers/contractors) (NPPV)Three years
Counter-Terrorist Check (CTC)Three years
Security Check (SC)Five years
Enhanced Security Check (eSC)Ten years
Developed Vetting (DV)Ten years

The further down the list an individual works from Management Vetting (MV) to Developed Vetting (DV), the higher the level of scrutiny of their life.

If an individual wishes to move into a role that holds a different vetting/security level, they may be offered a provisional post pending their vetting to a higher level being successful.

It is important to note that the vetting process is designed to ensure national security, and the level of vetting required for each role is determined by the level of access to sensitive information or areas that the role requires. The vetting process can include checks on an individual’s criminal record, financial history, and personal relationships, among other things.

Why Do Police Officers Need To Be Vetted?

Police officers are expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity and honesty, as they have the responsibility of maintaining public safety. The vetting process plays a crucial role in ensuring that those working in the police service are reliable and trustworthy.

The Code of Practice for Vetting, established by the government, provides guidance to Police forces on how to carry out the vetting process in a consistent and reliable manner. The College of Policing also provides guidance on vetting to support forces in delivering an effective vetting process.

Vetting helps mitigate risks associated with an individual’s background and personal circumstances and identify any vulnerabilities that may threaten national security, police assets, the public, or the individual themselves. It also helps to maintain public trust and confidence in the police service.

The Home Office expects all recommendations for improvement to be acted on urgently, and counter-corruption units have a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption within the police service.

What Do They Check?

The police vetting process involves checks on various aspects of a person’s life to ensure that they are suitable for the role. Here are a few they cover;


The vetting process includes a check on the details of family members, including full names, dates of birth, and addresses over a period of time (normally 5 years). This is done to ensure that the applicant is not vulnerable to extortion or blackmail.


Close associates are checked in the same way as family members. The reason for checking them is to protect the applicant from exploitation.

Address History

Applicants must provide a history of addresses they have lived at and anybody they have cohabited with at those addresses.

Employment History

The applicant’s employment history for a minimum of the last three years will be checked. If there are any gaps in the employment history, the applicant will need to explain why this has been the case.


The applicant’s financial circumstances will be considered part of the vetting process. Depending on the level of vetting that the applicant is applying for, the extent of disclosure required about their financial situation may vary. Normally, the applicant will be asked to disclose their current financial situation in terms of savings and debt as well as their financial history. This will include declaring if they have any County Court Judgements (CCJs). The reason for these financial background checks is to establish whether the applicant could be susceptible to bribery and extortion.

Nationality and Immigration Status

To apply to the UK police, the applicant must be a British Citizen, or a member of the EC or other states in the European Economic Area. If the applicant is a Commonwealth citizen or a foreign national, they must be resident in the UK free of restrictions and have indefinite leave to remain in the UK.

Criminal Record

Checks will be completed to see if the applicant has previous convictions. These checks will span beyond the force that they are applying to and will be run nationally. All previous criminal convictions (including cautions) should be declared. Previous criminal convictions do not necessarily mean the applicant will be rejected by the police service. Each application will be looked at on an individual basis.


Systems will be checked to see if there is any intelligence about the applicant, family, or associates that would suggest that they are not a suitable fit for the police.

The above-mentioned checks are conducted to ensure that the applicant meets the required standards set out in the Code of Ethics. The vetting process is thorough; the applicant should be prepared to provide detailed information about their personal, financial, and criminal history.

How long do police vetting checks take?

The vetting process typically takes around 12 weeks to complete, but this timeframe is subject to various factors. Once the applicant submits their vetting forms, a disclosure team reviews them and begins running checks on the provided information. The checks may take longer if the applicant has a large family, has lived in many different locations, or has any gaps in their provided information. In such cases, there may be further communication with the applicant, which can extend the process. Additionally, the time frame may increase if the force conducts a large recruitment drive.

When Will I Get My Police Vetting Forms?

As the final step of the recruitment process, applicants for police officer, police staff, or police volunteer positions will receive their police vetting forms. This will be after successfully completing the police fitness test. The vetting forms may be sent in physical paper copies or through an online portal where applicants can fill in their details.

For those who are already employed in a role within the police and are applying for a different role within the organization, the vetting forms will be sent through their internal email address to be filled in and returned to the vetting department.

It is important to note that the vetting process can take several weeks to complete, and the length of time may vary depending on individual circumstances. Applicants should ensure that they complete and return their vetting forms promptly to avoid unnecessary delays.

If You Fail Your Police Vetting, Will You Find Out Why?

If an individual fails their police vetting, they may not necessarily be told why. Police forces are not obligated to disclose this information for data protection reasons. For example, if an individual’s close family member is involved in criminal activity, this could be the reason for their failure, even if the individual is unaware of it. Adverse information may be discovered during the vetting process, and if this information is deemed relevant to the individual’s suitability for the role, it may result in their failure.

Can I Appeal The Result of My Police Vetting?

If an applicant is not satisfied with the result of their police vetting, they may appeal the decision. Each police force has its own appeals procedure and timescales for this purpose. Grounds for appeal are typically based on an inappropriate judgment or a decision that is not justified or based on evidence.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Involved in the Police Vetting Process?

The police vetting process thoroughly investigates an individual’s background, character, and suitability to work in the police force. The process involves various checks, including criminal record, financial, and employment history checks. The vetting process also includes a review of an individual’s personal relationships and lifestyle choices. The aim of the vetting process is to ensure that individuals working in the police force are trustworthy, honest, and have the utmost integrity.

What are the Consequences of Failing Police Vetting?

Failing police vetting can have serious consequences, including disqualification from the recruitment process. If an individual fails the vetting process, they cannot work in the police force.

Can You Reapply for Police Vetting if You Fail?

If an individual fails police vetting, they may be able to reapply in the future. However, this will depend on the reason for their failure and the specific requirements of the police force they are applying to. In some cases, individuals may need to wait a certain period of time before reapplying.

How Does Social Media Impact Police Vetting?

Social media can have an impact on police vetting, as it provides a window into an individual’s personal life and can reveal information that may be relevant to the vetting process. Police forces may review an individual’s social media profiles as part of the vetting process to assess their character and suitability for the role.

What is the Average Duration of the Police Vetting Process?

The duration of the police vetting process can vary depending on a range of factors, including the specific police force and the complexity of the individual’s background. Generally, the vetting process can take several weeks to months to complete. It is important for individuals to be patient during the vetting process and to provide all requested information in a timely manner to avoid delays.

Tom Brook

Tom Brook

I am a former Police Detective with years of knowledge and experience in investigating serious crimes across Scotland, working with communities and keeping the public safe. I aim to give back to the Policing community with this site!
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