Christmas is just around the corner, and many children may be looking forward to visiting Santa in his grotto. But an important question to consider is: does Santa need a DBS check?
If you’re looking for volunteers for a festive grotto at your school or organisation, or if you’re hiring seasonal staff to play St. Nick, you may be wondering what the requirements are for a criminal record check. Read on to find out whether your Santa will need a DBS check, and which level they will be eligible for.
It’s worth noting too that, while Santa may be the boss of the grotto, the same rules apply to his helper elves, if they are also coming into contact with children.
The legislation around DBS check eligibility
Does Santa need a DBS check? The short answer is: probably not.
However, it depends on the level of check in question and the location of the work.
In most cases, Santa will not be required to undergo an Enhanced DBS check. However, he could request a Basic DBS check instead. For example, if he’s working in a department store or garden centre.
Does Santa need an Enhanced DBS check?
To be eligible for an Enhanced DBS check, a person needs to be undertaking a regulated activity in relation to children, or working 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.
This means that, even though a child may have contact with Santa, it will ultimately be down to the parents or guardians of the child to supervise the contact.
As a result, volunteers or seasonal staff playing the role of Santa will not qualify for an Enhanced DBS check on the grounds of regulated activity, and it would be illegal to apply for one on their behalf.
However, if Santa is working in a limited range of establishments on a frequent basis, he may qualify for an Enhanced 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.
Should Santa get a Basic DBS check?
Even though Santa will probably not require an Enhanced DBS check, organisations should carefully consider who they choose to play the role.
One option is to get a Basic DBS check. You can either request your Santas apply for a Basic DBS check on themselves or you can apply for a Basic DBS check on their behalf, provided you have their consent.
A Basic DBS check is the lowest level of check available and shows any unspent convictions.
Other simple steps you can take to make sure your Santa’s grotto is safe include:
- Having an informal interview and asking your volunteer to provide references. This will help you ascertain whether they’re suitable to take on the role.
- Making your volunteer aware of your safeguarding policies and procedures so they know how you expect them to behave.
- Encouraging parents or carers to stay with their children at all times.
- If possible, making 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 request a Basic DBS too!
Does Santa need a DBS check? A summary
To conclude: does Santa need a DBS check?
The volunteer or seasonal staff member playing Santa will not usually require an Enhanced DBS check. However, you should take steps to ensure the children who visit him are protected, such as requesting a Basic DBS check instead.
If you’d like to know more about eligibility for DBS Checks, or if, due to the establishment criteria, you need an Enhanced DBS check online, get in touch with us today. Our expert team would be more than happy to help.