A fun behaviour-rating meter at the intu Watford Centre Christmas grotto has left children "crying their hearts out" after being told they’ve been naughty.

The grotto in intu Watford has a device which determines if the child has been naughty or nice, and angry parents have taken to Facebook to complain about "devastated" little ones who found themselves on the naughty list.

However, management at intu Watford say the gimmick is meant as a "bit of fun" and the centre has not received any complaints about it.

One disgruntled shopper complained their best-behaved child pushed the button and it landed on ‘naughty’ while her other children and niece were told they were ‘nice’.

The shopper said: "Absolutely fuming. She was absolutely devastated and cried her heart out.

"Surely for all kids it should land on nice. It's absolutely disgusting it did that to a small child."

Another mum said: "It said naughty to my two and half year old she was then in tears for hours.

"Wouldn't see Santa or anything. And now gets upset when ever Santa is mentioned. I thought it was very mean."

While others said staff at the grotto had told them the metre kept breaking.

One woman said: "This happened to my friends little girl too, then the 'elf' banged it and said it keeps breaking!..i agree why have it so it can land naughty it will upset many children."

However, the metre was praised by some parents who said it put just the right amount of fear in their kids to keep them on their best behaviour this Christmas week.

One said: "It said naughty for my most mischievous child! He's now on his best behaviour til xmas day worked a treat!"

Howard Oldstein, centre manager, said he would be very concerned if children had been reduced to tears by the metre but as yet there have been no complaints.

He said: "We haven’t had any complaints about it, we’ve had good publicity around the way the grotto has been set up.

"It’s a bit of fun, we’re not telling children that they are good or naughty. I’ve not seen a child brought to tears by that, I would be very concerned about that."