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Proving you're nice

Once upon a time in a land far, far away nasty men applied for jobs working with little girls and boys. Their intentions were not good. So Police checks became common and employers, such as schools, started asking the police to provide them with reports on the criminal past of people about to be employed. In time the system became more widespread and the checks came to be known as CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks. Now, apparently, the name has changed and they are DBS or Disclosure and Barring Service checks.

Now Maggie has worked in three schools whilst we've been here in Spain together. I may be wrong but I don't think that any of them has ever asked to see any form of Police check. I remember she did fill in a form (that we got from a tobacconist) when she first started with the bilingual project but it was the British element of the project that was worried about the check. The local headteacher in Ciudad Rodrigo quietly slipped the form in a drawer and mumbled something about being friends with a big wig in the local police. The Spanish are not big on euphemisms and the form is called the Certificate of Criminal Record. It isn't really, it has a Spanish name, but you'll have to take it from me that that's how the name translates.

So Maggie has just applied for a job that needs the Certificate of Criminal Record. She downloaded the paperwork from the Internet but to avoid longish bureaucratic delays she filled the form in and took it to the nearest office of the Justice Ministry which is in the Regional Capital of Murcia. As she disappeared into the building I settled down to get a coffee in the bar alongside and opened up my book. The coffee hadn't arrived by the time Maggie was back with her criminal record certificate in her hand. Quick process, cheap too, less than 4€.

Unfortunately for Maggie her new school wants the certificate in English so she spent a few hours chasing up an official translator to provide a sworn translation. The idea is that a translation signed and sealed by one of these translators has the same legal validity as the original. She eventually found one and he/she promised the certificate by tomorrow.

The translator wants nearly ten times the cost of the original document for the translation.


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