Does Santa need a DBS check?

Christmas is just around the corner, and many children may be looking forward to visiting Santa in his grotto. But does Santa need a DBS check?

If you’re putting on a Santa’s grotto for your school or organisation, you might find yourself inundated with offers from dads, grandads and staff members all eager to take on the coveted role.

Making sure the volunteer you choose is suitable for the role should be a top priority.

So…does Santa need a DBS check?

The legislation around DBS check eligibility

In most cases, Santa will not be required to undergo a DBS check. For example, if he’s working in a department store or garden centre.

To be eligible for a DBS check, a volunteer would need to be undertaking a regulated activity in relation to children, or work frequently in a limited range of establishments like schools or nurseries.

Put simply, ‘regulated activity’ means regularly undertaking work which involves teaching, caring for or supervising children. A full definition is available here.

Of course, Santa will have contact with children, but in order to qualify as a regulated activity, the activity must meet the definition listed above.

Santa may have contact with the children, but ultimately it will be down to the parents or guardians of the child to supervise the contact.

If Santa is working in a limited range of establishments on a frequent basis, he may qualify for a DBS check based on this factor only.

In this case, ‘frequent’ means at least once a week on an ongoing basis, on more than three days in a 30-day period or overnight.

As Santa’s duties are usually limited to one day a year, it’s unlikely he’d satisfy this part of the eligibility criteria, but it’s worth checking with the school, nursery or other limited establishment if they require this clearance. Get in touch with us for more information on what establishments may qualify.

Keeping children safe

Even though Santa will probably not require a DBS check, organisations should carefully consider who they choose to play the role.

The importance of child safety cannot be overstated, and organisations should do everything they can to protect the children visiting Santa.

Here are some simple steps you can take to make sure your Santa’s grotto is safe:

• Try to choose a volunteer who has already undergone a DBS check. This will help give parents peace of mind as well as marking you out as an organisation that takes child safeguarding seriously.

• Have an informal interview and ask your volunteer to provide references. This will help you ascertain whether they’re suitable to take on the role.

• Make your volunteer aware of your safeguarding policies and procedures so they know how you expect them to behave.

• Encourage parents or carers to stay with their children at all times.

• If possible, make sure Santa is never left unaccompanied with children. It’s good practice to make sure he’s accompanied by at least one person – in addition to any parents present – at all times. Ideally, the person accompanying Santa should be DBS checked too!

Does Santa need a DBS check? A summary

To conclude: does Santa need a DBS check?

No, the volunteer playing Santa will not usually require a DBS check. However, you should take steps to ensure the children who visit him are protected.

If you’d like to know more about eligibility for DBS Checks, get in touch with us today. Our expert team would be more than happy to help.