A new system to support children who experience, witness or are directly involved in domestic abuse was launched today (26 March 2015) by the Police & Crime Commissioner, Cleveland Police, Hartlepool Borough Council (Child & Adults Services).
Operation Encompass means that before the next school day officially begins, police will already have notified teachers of a domestic abuse incident involving a pupil at their school. A designated key adult can then intervene early and offer any appropriate support to the child. Some professionals call children the “silent” victims of domestic abuse as the effect on them often manifests itself in their behaviour – they might become withdrawn, disruptive in the classroom or even physically lash out. Police and partners are confident that school staff will now be better equipped to support any youngster affected by domestic abuse.
The 38 schools in Hartlepool (covering every child from the ages of 2 to 18 years in primary, secondary and academies) have signed up to Operation Encompass, and head teachers have received training from educational psychologists and specialist police officers.
Although a handful of commands within a small number of UK Forces already take part in Operation Encompass, Cleveland Police is among the first in the country to pledge to roll Encompass out force-wide – and within a year of the Hartlepool pilot scheme. Posters will be displayed in school reception areas and the Cleveland Police website will include details on Operation Encompass.
The concept of supporting not only adult victims of domestic abuse, but any resident children as well, came from Plymouth-based Head teacher Elisabeth Carney-Haworth who commented a few years ago in passing to her police Sergeant Husband David (now retired) that it would help teachers if they knew a child had suffered or witnessed domestic abuse.
David began reviewing all domestic abuse incidents and began informing a number of local schools before 9.00am to make them aware that a child witnessed or was present at such abuse. The successful child-centred approach has attracted interest from police colleagues across the globe with the couple being contacted by forces in America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Launch of Operation Encompass in Hartlepool (26 March 2015)
(Left to Right) Shane Sellers (Operation Encompass Co-ordinator), Detective Inspector Helen Eustace, Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer,
Cleveland PCC Barry Coppinger, Sally Robinson (Assistant Director, Safeguarding and Specialist Services)
and Dave Pickard (Independent Chair, Hartlepool Safeguarding Children's Board).
Cleveland Police, Police and Crime Commissioner Barry Coppinger, Hartlepool Borough Council Child and Adult Services professionals and colleagues from domestic abuse support organisations and other local authorities will be at the launch at Hartlepool Borough Council on Thursday 26 March.
PCC Barry Coppinger added: “Operation Encompass demonstrates yet again the huge benefits of police and partners working towards a common goal. Children and young people who experience domestic abuse are among the most vulnerable members of our society and we have an absolute duty to protect and support them in every way possible.”
Thanking Shane Sellers who coordinated the introduction of Operation Encompass, trained Head teachers and secured Home Office funding for dedicated staff to work on the initiative, Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer said: “Tackling domestic abuse is an absolute priority for the Force. Operation Encompass is a perfect example of our Victim First policy, which is at the heart of what we do. We can and already do record if children are present, witness or are involved in domestic abuse situations but Cleveland Police has never asked the simple question of which school they attend. I’m convinced this will greatly help youngsters who can suffer in many ways – either in the immediate aftermath of seeing or experiencing domestic abuse, or days, weeks or even months down the line. I’d also like to pay tribute to Hartlepool Borough Council’s Child and Adult Services teams and to the town’s Head teachers. Their expert input and ongoing support for the initiative is absolutely invaluable. ”
Gill Alexander, Director of Child & Adult Services for Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “Domestic abuse can have a devastating effect on children and young people and it’s so important to have the best possible support mechanisms in place. We already have excellent systems in place to share information among the relevant agencies but this initiative will improve things further by ensuring that schools are informed immediately of any issues that could impact on a child’s life. The safeguarding of children and young people is at the centre of this initiative and I support it wholeheartedly.”
Briefing Note About Operation Encompass
Operation Encompass is a process by which key adults in schools and academies are informed that a child attending school may have been affected by domestic abuse. This will usually mean that a child has been in the household where an incident of domestic abuse has taken place, or has been exposed to domestic abuse.
The sharing of information between the police and schools will allow early intervention support for the key adult. The support provided may be overt or covert and will ensure the child can remain in school and continue learning in a safe and secure environment.
In Hartlepool between Feb 2014 and Jan 2015, there were 2,054 incidents of domestic abuse - of these victims 1,021 had a child or children associated to them.
It is intended by April 2016 to have Operation Encompass embedded in all Cleveland's local authority areas and see this as a precursor to the setting up of a Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
Operation Encompass Booklet
A 16 page booklet outlining the background behind Operation Encompass can be downloaded via the link below.
Operation Encompass Booklet (26 March 2015) (PDF Document, 3.8MB)
Posted on Thursday 26th March 2015