Schools equipped to help tackle the effects of domestic violence on young people

29 January 2016

An initiative to safeguard and support children in education where domestic violence occurs in their home has been officially launched across the Cheshire sub-region.

The Police-led Operation Encompass scheme, funded by the Complex Dependency Programme via each local council, will see more than 500 nurseries, schools and colleges across Cheshire, Halton and Warrington better able to support pupils who may have been affected by domestic violence.

Children and young people who have experienced domestic violence can face both long and short-term cognitive, behavioural and emotional effects and having a trusted adult to turn to for support, away from the family setting, can play a key support role.   

By informing schools of any incidents that Police officers are called to, Operation Encompass ensures that should a child come to school and for example not want to let go of his teddy bear, or arrive without the appropriate uniform or books, that there is a level of understanding and support already in place.  
Chief Constable of Cheshire Police, Simon Byrne, who opened the official launch event, said: “It is vital that that we invest in the long-term welfare of the most vulnerable children in Cheshire.  Only by protecting young people from the impact of domestic abuse in the home can we hope to break the cycle of this devastating and destructive crime.

“Operation Encompass builds on the work that we already do and allows officers to take action to ensure that children, who find themselves in these challenging and upsetting situations, have a brighter future.

“As a Force we continually invest in training for our officers – as part of the operation they share information with key members of staff in local schools to ensure young people affected by domestic abuse get the help and support they need - at home and at school.”

The Complex Dependency Model funding has enabled Cheshire Police to recruit two dedicated members of staff who, following a domestic incident, make contact with the relevant school via telephone and communicate necessary information to nominated, fully-trained school staff. 

This knowledge will ensure that schools are made aware early enough to support children and young people in a way that means they feel safe, supported and listen to.

Each school across the sub-region now has at least one member of staff called a Key Adult who is trained to liaise with the police and ensure that support is available to the child within their educational setting.

Ali Stathers Tracey, Director of the Complex Dependency Model, said: “Operation Encompass is a prime example of partners working together to not only support children who may not have anyone to talk to about what they are experiencing at home but to really raise the issue of domestic violence in a social arena and on a local level.

“Tackling the root causes of domestic violence is no one agency’s responsibility and raising awareness amongst pupils, their parents, and the wider community is the first step is bringing was has been effectively something which goes on behind closed doors out in to the open.

“This was one of the first initiatives we, as a partnership programme looking to tackle the causes of crisis for children, families and vulnerable individuals, agreed to fund and its benefits can now be seen across the sub-region.”

Cheshire Police currently receive more than 1000 calls a month relating to alleged domestic violence and abuse. 

Headteacher of Ditton Primary School in Widnes, Andrew Buckley, said: “Operation Encompass is proving invaluable to our school community, we’ve already received ten calls relating to seven families and as a result staff have been able to offer targeted support and understanding.”  

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