Kids who see domestic abuse offered new help

NEW SYSTEM: Shane Sellers, who co-ordinated the introduction of Operation Encompass
NEW SYSTEM: Shane Sellers, who co-ordinated the introduction of Operation Encompass

A NEW system to support children who witness domestic abuse is being launched this week.

Operation Encompass will be launched by Cleveland Police and Hartlepool Borough Council on Thursday and is designed to ensure school staff will be better equipped to support any child affected by domestic abuse.

I’m convinced this will greatly help youngsters who can suffer in many ways, either in the immediate aftermath of seeing or experiencing abuse, or days, weeks or even months down the line.

Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer, Cleveland Police

The operation was co-ordinated by Shane Sellers who trained headteachers and secured Home Office funding for dedicated staff to work on the initiative.

Cleveland Police Chief Constable Jacqui Cheer said: “Tackling domestic abuse is an absolute priority for the force and 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 we have 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 abuse, or days, weeks or even months down the line.”

Operation Encompass means that teachers will be notified by police of a domestic abuse incident involving a pupil at their school, before the next school day begins.

A designated key adult can then intervene early and offer appropriate support to the child.

The 38 schools in Hartlepool have all signed up to the operation and headteachers have received training from educational psychologists and specialist police officers.

Although a handful of commands within a number of UK Forces already take part in Operation Encompass, Cleveland Police is among the first to roll it out force-wide.

Barry Coppinger, Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “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.”

Gill Alexander, director of the council’s child & adult services at the council, added: “Domestic abuse can have a devastating effect on children and it’s so important to have the best possible support mechanisms in place.

“The safeguarding of children and young people is at the centre of this initiative and I support it wholeheartedly.”

l Posters will be displayed in school reception areas and more information is available at www.operationencompass.org.