With a little over a month until Christmas, some churches may be thinking of recruiting a volunteer Father Christmas for a Santas Grotto. The question for many will be whether Jolly Old St Nick will need a DBS check.
According to Church of England guidance, Santa will not be required to undergo a DBS check under most circumstances. While Father Christmas may have some contact with children, it is the responsibility of the parents or guardians of the child to supervise it.
However, it is still sensible to choose a Santa volunteer carefully and use common sense. Actions that could be taken include:
- Using volunteers who already have been DBS checked through their usual role to act as Santa and his elves
- Ensuring that parents/carers should remain with their children at all times
- Ensuring that Santa is accompanied by one other person at all times (ideally someone who already has a DBS check in relation to his/her usual role). This is in addition to the parent/carer who accompanies the child
- Ensuring that no child is ever invited to sit on Santas knee. That said, if some children wish to do so, they could be allowed with their parents/carers consent, provided the parent/carer remains present at all times
- Having a short informal interview with any prospective Santa and asking him to provide references and provide him at the interview with a copy of your safeguarding/child protection policy
- Requesting a Basic Check via Disclosure Scotland, which would reveal unspent criminal conviction information.
More details on safeguarding checks for Father Christmas can be found on page 15 in the Church of England's Safer recruitment practice guidance. If you have any concerns, contact the Safeguarding Team.