A pioneering scheme to support children caught up in domestic abuse is to be extended to two more local authorities within the Cleveland force area. Operation Encompass was launched as a pilot in Hartlepool in April this year and each of the town’s nurseries, schools, academies and colleges signed up to the scheme. This initiative sees Cleveland Police reviewing all reported incidents of domestic abuse and notifying teachers before 9am the next day of a domestic abuse incident involving a child at their institution.
A designated key adult can then intervene early and offer any appropriate support to the child whether they were directly involved in an incident or were a witness to it. 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“silent” victims of domestic abuse as the effect on them often manifests itself in their behaviour – they might become withdrawn, disruptive in the classroom or even physically lash out.
Between 1st April and 31st August 2015, the details of 237 Hartlepool children were referred to key adults.
As with education professionals in Hartlepool, those in Redcar & Cleveland and in Middlesbrough have received awareness training from specialists during September. Frontline response officers, who are often first on the scene at a domestic incident, have also undergone training in readiness for the rollout. Cleveland is one of the first in the UK to implement Encompass across the whole force area.
The Encompass team is set to brief the Ministry of Security and Justice in the Netherlands this week as they have been impressed by the work Cleveland has carried out in relation to domestic abuse affecting children and young people. They have also been invited to speak to a number of Safeguarding Children Boards across North Yorkshire about Encompass work in Cleveland.
PCC for Cleveland Barry Coppinger added: “It’s great news that Operation Encompass - which has already helped so many youngsters in Hartlepool - is now being extended to other areas. Sadly, children and young people can often be caught up in domestic abuse and it is vital that we have prompt and effective systems in place to help them at this most vulnerable time.”
Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer added: “Tackling domestic abuse remains one of the force’s priorities and we will always work with partners - in this case with supportive and committed education professionals - to ensure that children are not forgotten and they also get the help and support they need. I’m very proud that the Encompass team’s achievements are starting to be noticed by other organisations – both here and abroad. ”
Councillor Mike Carr, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Children’s Social Care, said: “Every child has an absolute and unalienable right to grow up free from the scourge of domestic abuse. We will continue to work with all our partners to ensure all our children have the best possible start in life. Operation Encompass has achieved a great deal in co-ordinating our approach to the issue and I’m pleased to see it being extended.”
Councillor Craig Hannaway, Cabinet Member for children, added: “Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council are committed to supporting and assisting the implementation of Operation Encompass in schools throughout the borough. Domestic abuse within the family can have a long lasting impact on the emotional welfare of children and we are pleased to be associated with this initiative that provides support to children and young people at the earliest opportunity.”
Posters will be displayed in school, nursery and college reception areas and the Cleveland Police website includes details on Operation Encompass.
Further information on Encompass can also be found here: www.operationencompass.org
Posted on Friday 2nd October 2015