A new scheme to help children who witness domestic abuse in the home is going Sussex-wide.
Following the successful launch of Operation Encompass by Sussex Police, the innovative domestic abuse notification process to support children is now being rolled out to the majority of schools in Sussex.
Operation Encompass is a safeguarding partnership between police and education. It is a simple but efficient way in which information from the police can be shared in strictest confidence with a school key adult, to provide that child or young person with appropriate support in dealing with a potentially traumatic domestic abuse experience they have witnessed or been subjected to at home.
When police find that a child or young person has been involved in or exposed to a domestic abuse incident, the school will be notified before the start of the next school day, in addition to other action police may be taking to deal with the matter.
So far, police have made more than 1200 notifications to schools, enabling them to take steps to support children, the vast majority relating to experiences they have witnessed.
Sussex is one of many police forces that have adopted Operation Encompass and Detective Chief Inspector Pip Taylor from the force’s Public Protection Command said: ‘Children and young people are often hidden victims when it comes to domestic abuse and this notification can help support them to deal with what can be a traumatic adverse experience.
“We know that, on average, 35 incidents of domestic abuse can be experienced before police are called; therefore, it is imperative that we make schools aware of this, to ensure that child is safe and protected. The purpose of this operation is to help stop children becoming stuck on that devastating cycle that domestic abuse can create.
“Until launching in West Sussex over the past year, starting in January 2018 following a pilot scheme in Crawley, there were no such procedures in place in Sussex for early reporting to schools following domestic abuse incidents. East Sussex started to adopt the process in December and we are so pleased that Brighton has seen the positive results from West Sussex and are also now adopting .”
Anna Gianfrancesco, Head of Safeguarding and Quality Assurance for Children Families and Learning at Brighton and Hove City Council said; “The Brighton and Hove Local Safeguarding Childrens Board (LSCB) and the Local Authority are working with schools in Brighton and Hove to support the roll out of Operation Encompass. This approach will enable schools to quickly respond to children and young people who are experiencing domestic abuse.
“Schools often are not aware that a domestic incident has happened the previous day or over the weekend. This will mean that immediately after the event, they will be able to offer a light touch approach to support the child or more support as needed.“
Chris Robson, chair of the LSCB, said; ‘Brighton and Hove Local Safeguarding Children Board fully support the important role the exchange of information can play in making sure children are safe and secure. Operation Encompass affords police and schools an opportunity to share information that may help professionals understand behaviour and support children who have been in a household where domestic abuse has occurred’
Advice and support on domestic abuse from police and support agencies can be found on our website or at Safe Space Sussex. You can report domestic abuse to us online or by calling 101 and 999 in an emergency.