Does Santa need a Criminal Record Check?

Lots of children will be looking forward to visiting Santa this Christmas time – but does Santa need a criminal record check?

If your organisation is planning on setting up a grotto this festive season, it’s important to think about safeguarding.

You’ll no doubt want to make sure you’ve found the right people to play Santa and his elves, and carrying out criminal record checks is often a vital part of this. 

So – does Santa need a criminal record check? Read on to find out…

does santa need a criminal record check

Can Santa have an Enhanced DBS Check?


In the course of his grotto duties, Santa and his elf helpers will of course have lots of contact with children – but this alone doesn’t qualify them for an Enhanced DBS Check.

To be eligible for an Enhanced Check, an employee or volunteer must engage in regulated activity as part of their role.

Regulated activity in relation to children is work that someone who has been barred from working with children is not allowed to do. 

Put simply, it is any work that involves teaching, supervising or caring for children regularly. You can see the full definition of regulated activity with children here.

Playing Santa or one of his helpers is not classed as regulated activity in itself, even though it involves contact with children. 

This is because the children’s parents or carers will be present, so the responsibility for supervising the children lies with them. 


Are there any exceptions?


Playing Santa or one of his helpers may be classed as regulated activity if it happens within what the DBS calls a ‘limited range of establishments’ and on a frequent basis.

These establishments include schools and nurseries. To be considered frequent, the activity needs to happen at least once a week, or three or more times in a 30-day period. 

If Santa or his helpers meet both these requirements, they’ll be eligible for an Enhanced DBS Check with a children’s barred list check.

However, as Santa usually only visits schools or nurseries once a year it’s unlikely they’ll meet the frequency requirement.


Is there another check that Santa can have?


In most cases, Santa and his helpers will only be eligible for a Basic DBS Check.

A Basic Check will show whether the applicant has any unspent convictions, and is available to anyone aged 16 or over. 

You could either apply for a Basic Check on Santa’s behalf (as long as you have their consent), or ask the person playing Santa to apply for one themselves

Carrying out a Basic Check is a good way to help ensure the people you employ are right for the role.

In addition, you could ask them to provide references, make them aware of your safeguarding policies and make sure they’re accompanied at all times. 


Does Santa need a criminal record check?


So, to conclude – does Santa need a criminal record check?

In most cases, the people playing Santa and his helpers will only be eligible for a Basic DBS Check. Carrying out this type of check is best practice if the applicant isn’t eligible for a higher level of check.

However, if your Santa works within a limited range of establishments on a frequent basis, they will be eligible for an Enhanced DBS Check. If you’re not sure, see the DBS eligibility guidance or contact the DBS directly. 

As always, if you have any questions or want more information then feel free to drop us a line – we’d be happy to help out!