If you’re organizing a Christmas event this year, you may be worrying unnecessarily about whether your volunteer Santa needs to have a DBS check. These checks are carried out by the DBS, who review criminal records and barring records to ensure that the person is safe to work with children or vulnerable people.

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Many people assume that a DBS check is necessary for a role such as Santa, which involves privileged access to children. Many children enjoy sitting on Santa’s knee, which can raise concerns for parents. However, for one-off events, there is no need to have any checks take place.

Why Have a Check?

The checks are really designed to prevent abuses by people who have a chance to form a relationship with children. The normal criteria for needing a DBS check (formerly known as a CRB check) is that the role is ongoing, taking place at least once a week or any four days in a 30-day period, or involves staying overnight. Obviously, the role of Santa at a school or village fête doesn’t meet these guidelines.

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DBS offers guidance for when a check is required, or you could speak to a company that arranges these checks such as carecheck.co.uk, who will be happy to advise. Checks can take weeks to be returned, so make sure you get started in plenty of time.

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Common Sense

For most events, simple common sense will be enough to ensure the safety and security of all concerned. If your organization has child protection policies, make sure that any volunteers working with children are aware of them.

It may be best to carry out interviews with potential Santas and take up references so you can be as sure as possible that you have chosen someone who can handle the role. Many organizations make sure there is another adult present in the grotto (elves are a popular choice) and also encourage parents to join their children during the visit.

It is always sensible to protect your organization, your volunteers and of course children from any potential problems. This is best done by making sure everyone is aware of the issues involved and that your policies are clear and up to date. Organisations such as the NSPCC will have advice on how best to do this.

Published by Sunil Pandey