Table of contents

Visitor Access Policy

This policy complements the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) overall security policy.

This Visitor Access Control and Escorting Policy applies to all employees, contractors, partners and service providers, including those on co-located sites and sites owned by other public bodies. This also includes employees of other organisations who are based in, or work at, MoJ occupied premises.

Agencies and Arm’s Length Bodies (ALBs) are expected to comply with this corporate framework but may establish their own arrangements tailored to operational needs and should supplement it with local policy or guidance for any business-specific risk.

To help identify formal policy statements, each is prefixed with an identifier of the form: POL.VAP.xxx, where xxx is a unique ID number.

Objective

This policy outlines the access and security management controls that are in place for all visitors to MoJ buildings, along with requirements to be completed for escorted or unescorted visitors.

Scope and Definition

For the purpose of this policy, visitor control and escorting procedures are physical security controls that are intended to protect the MoJ from those wishing to gain unauthorised access or cause surreptitious or forced attack.

POL.VAP.001: Government organisations shall have mechanisms to implement internal and external security controls in a layered fashion that deter or prevent unauthorised access and protect assets, especially those that are critical or sensitive, against forcible or surreptitious attacks.

Context

POL.VAP.002: The work of the MoJ involves a level of risk that is susceptible to physical threats, including crime and national security threats such as terrorism and espionage. Security risks shall be managed effectively, collectively and proportionately to achieve a secure and confident working environment.

POL.VAP.003: The MoJ shall implement effective and proportionate security controls to reduce physical risks (including crime, natural hazards and terrorism) to our assets (people, information and infrastructure) to an acceptable level.

Responsibilities

All employees, contractors, partners, service providers and employees of other organisations who are on MoJ premises and co-located sites remain accountable for the security, health and safety of themselves, colleagues and the protection of Departmental Assets.

POL.VAP.004: Staff should:

  • Comply with the visitor access procedure when sponsoring a visit.

  • Notify the MoJ of any foreign delegates or visitors well in advance of the visit taking place.

  • Advise visitors of any requirements they need to fulfil prior to the visit, including providing confirmation of clearance if required, and bringing valid ID. Inform them of any searches they may be subjected to.

  • Inform colleagues of any expected visitors.

  • Ensure that a visitor categorised as requiring an escort shall always be accompanied by a member of staff.

  • Challenge any escorted visitor found to be unaccompanied and seek assistance if required. The unescorted visitor should be returned to reception.

  • Ensure visitors remove their pass when leaving the building and that they return the pass to reception at the end of their visit.

  • Be mindful of any sensitive conversations that might be subject to unauthorised overhearing. Staff should hold such conversations away from any visitors.

  • Ensure that visitors do not have access to any sensitive or high profile areas of the business, unless specifically authorised. Where such access is authorised, staff working in these areas should apply more stringent controls to avoid disclosure of any information.

  • Be aware that noncompliance with hosting duties is regarded as a breach of security.

Policy Statements

POL.VAP.005: The MoJ shall:

  • Put in place arrangements to control and monitor access to our estate, including Visitor Control and Escorting policy.

  • Have effective plans or procedures in place for dealing with and intercepting unauthorised visitors, intruders or suspicious items. These plans shall include the ability to search and cordon off areas of the establishment systemically.

This policy has been tailored to reflect the outcomes detailed in Government Functional Standard - GovS 007: Security, and sets out the processes to be completed when organising and overseeing visitor access to the MoJ estate.

Determining Visitor Access Controls

POL.VAP.006: MoJ Estates should refer to the government response levels and their individual threat assessments to determine the level and appropriate visitors control required to manage the security risks to their estate. These controls should form part of a layered defence approach.

POL.VAP.007: For high risk estates which contain sensitive information or other valuable assets, there should be a robust pass system to identify the type of visitor and a sign-in procedure. The use of x-ray scanners and searches to minimise the risk of unauthorised and external access to the estate should also be considered.

Visitor access procedure

Note: The MoJ uses two colours to distinguish visitor passes. A red visitor pass means that the visitor requires escorting by an authorised MoJ individual at all times, and in all locations within the MoJ premises. A green visitor pass means that the visitor does not require escorting while on MoJ premises.

POL.VAP.008: The following procedures should be implemented and followed to manage visitor access appropriately:

  • POL.VAP.009: Provide at least 24 hours’ notice of any planned visits to MoJ premises.

  • POL.VAP.010: If visitors arrive without notice and cannot provide the name or telephone number of the person they are visiting, security shall refuse them entry to the building.

  • POL.VAP.011: All visitors shall be sponsored by a MoJ permanent member of staff (Civil Servant) who assumes full responsibility for the visit. Clearance checks should be conducted if required, for example when unescorted passes are required. Confirmation of clearance is required for those buildings which specify a minimum clearance requirement.

  • POL.VAP.012: Hosts shall always accompany red escort pass visitors when inside the building. If colleagues see a holder of a red escort pass visitor without an escort, the visitor shall be escorted back to reception, who shall contact the host and ask them to collect their visitor.

  • POL.VAP.013: Hosts are responsible for ensuring that red escort pass visitors are escorted back to reception and return their pass. Hosts should also remind the holders of green unescorted passes to return their pass to reception when leaving the building at the end of their visit.

  • POL.VAP.014: Hosts are responsible for advising their visitors to clearly display their pass at all times whilst inside the building, and that they shall remove and conceal their pass when outside the building.

  • POL.VAP.015: Hosts are responsible for the health and safety of their visitors, and should brief them on the MoJ evacuation and invacuation procedures.

  • POL.VAP.016: Visitors from Other Government Departments (OGDs) shall not act as hosts in MoJ buildings.

  • POL.VAP.017: Holders of either a valid HMCTS or HMPPS pass may request a green unescorted pass from reception. There is no need to arrange visitor access or have them met in reception, but security may request further identification.

  • POL.VAP.018: Civil Servants from OGDs who hold a Common Civil Service Pass (CCSP) can be issued with a green unescorted pass, but security may request further identification.

  • POL.VAP.019: Contractors from OGDs who hold a CCSP and a national security vetting at CTC, SC or DV can receive a green unescorted pass, but security may request further identification.

  • POL.VAP.020: Contractors from OGDs who hold a CCSP at BPSS may not use their CCSP to access MoJ building. They shall be treated as visitors.

  • POL.VAP.021: Searches, including the use of scanners where available, should be considered for all visitors. Annex B provides additional guidance and policy statements for accommodating the religious obligations of Sikh visitors.

  • POL.VAP.022: For health and safety purposes, a register should be maintained by reception to record the details of the visitor. This applies to security manned sites only. The register should include the visitor name, host unit or contact, date and time of entry, date and time of departure, and a contact number.

  • POL.VAP.023: Visitor passes are exclusively for the use of visitors. Contractors or consultants working for and paid by the MoJ are not visitors, and therefore shall be security cleared before starting work at or for the Department, and issued with a valid building pass. In the rare case of an individual being employed on a very short-term contract not involving access Departmental assets or information, the business unit shall approach MoJ Group Security beforehand to obtain approval for the usual clearance requirements to be waived for specific individuals on specific dates.

  • POL.VAP.024: Visitor passes are intended for temporary use only, and shall not be used as permanent means to allow for routine daily escorted or unescorted access to the MoJ estate.

  • POL.VAP.025: A visitor’s pass shall not be used as a substitute or way to circumvent the issuing of a permanent building pass.

    Note: This does not include waiting for the replacement of a lost or stolen pass.

  • POL.VAP.026: Where a staff member or contractor has forgotten their building pass on the day, they can be issued with a temporary green unescorted visitor day pass, on the proviso that another member of staff can vouch for them. If a staff member or contractor has forgotten their pass on two or more consecutive days, the pass shall be deemed lost or stolen. The staff member or contractor shall report to building Security Team before issue of a temporary pass is approved.

International delegations or visits

POL.VAP.027: In the case of international delegations visiting the MoJ, advice should be obtained in advance from the International Relations and Strategy Team.

Prisoners on licence visiting MoJ premises

POL.VAP.028: Where it is necessary for any prisoner who is subject to licence conditions to visit MoJ offices, it is the responsibility of the Offender Manager to undertake a thorough risk assessment well in advance of the planned visit. The assessment should be shared with the host. The risk assessment should be referenced by the visit host on their own risk assessment for the visit in question, and shared with MoJ Group Security. Advice on completing risk assessments is available on the MoJ Intranet.

Common Civil Service Pass (CCSP)

POL.VAP.029: Staff from other government departments who hold a CCSP can access and visit the MoJ building unescorted. They shall present their pass to reception staff, and are then issued with a green unescorted visitor pass.

For further information regarding the Common Civil Service Pass, refer to Annex A.

Other Government Departments or Private Estates

POL.VAP.030: MoJ staff occupying buildings with other government departments or accommodated in privately leased buildings should refer to and follow internal policies and procedures regarding visitor access.

Guarding responsibilities

POL.VAP.031: Security guards should check all passes every time any person enters a secure building via reception. This is a means of identifying the person presenting the pass. It also ensures that the passes have not been lost and possibly fallen into the hands of unauthorised persons who make improper use of them.

POL.VAP.032: When a valid pass is not presented but scanners are available, security should refuse access and direct the individual through scanners and subsequent searches before reporting to reception to obtain a valid building pass.

POL.VAP.033: Annex B refers to specific entry search procedures that shall apply for Sikh visitors wearing the Kirpan.

Types of accepted identification

POL.VAP.034: Visitors can be asked to present ID. The following are the only recognised forms of ID accepted by the MoJ:

  • Current passport.

  • Current UK or other internationally-recognised driving licence.

  • UK Government Department ID as recognised by MoJ Group Security.

Only original forms of the recognised ID are accepted. No copies are acceptable.

Compliance

POL.VAP.035: The level of risk and potential impact to MoJ information, assets and people determines the controls to be applied and the degree of assurance required. The MoJ shall ensure a baseline of physical security measures are in place at each site, and receive annual assurance that such measures are in place to provide appropriate protection to all occupants and assets, and that these measures can be strengthened when required, for example in response to a security incident or change in the Government Response Level.

POL.VAP.036: The implementation of all security measures shall be able to provide evidence that the selection has been made in accordance with the appropriate information security standards ISO27001/27002, Physical Security advice taken from the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) and Government Functional Standard - GovS 007: Security.

POL.VAP.037: The constantly changing security landscape has necessarily dictated that Physical Security measures be constantly re-evaluated and tested in order to meet new threats and other emerging vulnerabilities. This policy and subsequent supporting standards is subject to annual review, or more frequently if warranted.

Physical security advice

For more physical security advice, contact MoJ Group Security.

Annex A - Common Civil Service Pass Information Sheet

For access to this information, contact mojgroupsecurity@justice.gov.uk.

Annex B - Sikh Visitors

This guidance provides for reasonable accommodation for religious freedoms as defined by United Kingdom Equalities legislation and the Human Rights Act, while clearly identifying the conditions under which the Kirpan may be worn.

Definition of a Kirpan

The Sikh faith follows a dress code which encompasses the 5 Ks. The Kirpan is one of the 5 Ks. As is the case with all faiths, people follow tenets of their faith to different degrees. Not all Sikhs make a commitment to live by the full Sikh religious code. Therefore, not all Sikhs wear the turban or carry the Kirpan. However, all baptised Sikhs (Amritdharis) who live by the code are required to wear all 5 Ks. Both men and women can be baptised, and the code is the same.

The 5 Ks are defined as follows:

  1. Kesh: Uncut hair, which includes keeping a beard. Baptised Sikhs have an untrimmed beard which is either rolled up and tied, or free flowing. A turban is usually worn on their heads to cover the uncut hair. Whilst the turban is mandatory for baptised Sikhs, it is considered to be an integral part of the makeup of the Sikh identity and therefore might be worn by many non-baptised Sikhs.

  2. Kara: Steel bangle, predominantly worn on the right wrist. Most Sikhs wear a Kara.

  3. Kanga: A small wooden comb in the hair underneath the turban.

  4. Kachera (or kachh or kaccha): Cotton loose boxer style shorts with a draw string waist.

  5. Kirpan: Ceremonial sword. There is no fixed style of Kirpan, and it can be anything from a few inches to three feet long. It is kept in a sheath, which is attached to a fabric belt and can be worn over or under clothing. The Kirpan signifies that the wearer is blessed with honour. The Kirpan is worn by baptised Sikhs only.

A picture of a Sikh Kirpan. This is a curved ceremonial sword or dagger, and may be any size or shape.

A picture of four different Sikh Kirpans. It shows that the ceremonial sword or dagger may be any size or shape.

Procedures

POL.VAP.038: A Sikh visitor should not be denied entry into the building for genuinely wearing any article of their faith.

POL.VAP.039: The previous information about the Kirpan should be used as a reference guide to enable security guards to satisfy themselves of the visitors’ Sikh faith.

POL.VAP.040: There is no requirement for the removal or confiscation of any articles, particularly the Kirpan, and under normal circumstances, guards should not ask to inspect items that are not visible.

POL.VAP.041: It should be noted that when a Sikh is required to remove their Kirpan, they must make an immediate visit to the temple for the Kirpan to be blessed. Therefore, Sikh visitors should only be subject to searches and inspections of their Kirpans in exceptional circumstances, where there is a genuine cause for concern to security.

POL.VAP.042: Where a search and inspection are required, guards should note that it might take the Sikh visitor a few moments to pull their Kirpan from underneath their clothes. This could involve pulling the outer clothes out from their trousers and for women this could be more problematic. To accommodate for this, permission should be sought from the Sikh visitor to feel the Kirpan while still underneath the clothes; or to take the visitor to one side to provide some privacy during the search. Female Sikh visitors should be searched in private by a female security guard.

Contact details

For any further questions or advice relating to security, contact: security@justice.gov.uk.

Feedback

If you have any questions or comments about this guidance, such as suggestions for improvements, please contact: itpolicycontent@digital.justice.gov.uk.