Santa Claus is coming to town... if he gets his CRB check

SANTAS in Crow country could face a distinctly un-merry Christmas unless they receive the results of vital government checks in time for the festive season. Members of the Royston Rotary Club have agreed to voluntarily man a Santa s grotto at Country Home

SANTAS in Crow country could face a distinctly un-merry Christmas unless they receive the results of vital government checks in time for the festive season.

Members of the Royston Rotary Club have agreed to voluntarily man a Santa's grotto at Country Homes and Gardens garden centre in Melbourn this Christmas.

However, Rotarians wishing to be involved have to be subjected to Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks to give them the green light to come into contact with youngsters.

These checks can take six weeks to process, meaning would-be Father Christmases face an anxious wait to discover whether they will get permission in time.


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David Williams, from the Rotary Club, said: "It's a bit of a nightmare but it's just one of those things that has to be done now.

"Usually the Rotary club would sort out the CRB forms on behalf of members, but this time people have had to apply separately for their own CRB checks because this isn't a Rotary event per se. We're volunteering in exchange for a donation to our charities.

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"At the moment we just don't know when all the checks will come back."

Terry Hutt has, in association with Royston Round Table, donned the famous red suit for the past few years to hand out presents to children from Santa's gazebo, as well as being part of the Round Table Christmas float which visits Royston and the surrounding villages.

He said: "It's ridiculous the amount of forms you have to fill in, even if the parents are going to be with you at all times."

Mr Hutt says the Round Table is investigating whether he will need CRB clearance to play a part in this year's festivities.

CRB checks have to be carried out on anyone working with children or vulnerable adults. The system has come in for criticism in recent months from civil liberties campaigners, who believe it sometimes condemns people on the strength of rumour or gossip.

An official report released yesterday (Wednesday) revealed that in the last six years more than 15,000 people nationwide had been wrongly branded criminals or accused of more serious offences than they had committed.

A Criminal Records Bureau spokesman said: “The Criminal Records Bureau plays a vital role in protecting the most vulnerable people in the UK by giving employers the extra tools to make informed recruitment decisions.”

He added that in general the checks had prevented almost 100,000 unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups in the past five years.

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