M&S puts Santa to ‘Goodometer’ test

Marks
and Spencer has vetted its Santas with the Criminal Records Bureau following
fears of potenial child abuse. The retail giant decided that it had to check
the records’ of the people playing Santa or elves at the nine Grottos it has
created outside major stores to allay parents’ fears. Consequently, many of the
grotto staff being employed are teachers, nursery nurses and classroom
assistants, who have already had the checks as part of their usual work.

A
spokesman for M&S said: "They tend to have a better affinity with
children." Many other retailers, including Selfridges, have decided not to
run grottos this Christmas. Earlier this year massive backlogs in the CRB
system saw some schools prevented from opening because many staff were still
waiting for clearance.

The
Criminal Records Bureau opened in April 2002 to check the criminal records of
staff working with children or vulnerable adults, but has encountered problems
with processing the volume of checks required. The latest figures suggest that
there is a backlog of 95,000 people in the CRB system, but last month it did
process more than 40,000 checks.

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