What is Operation Encompass?
Operation encompass is being introduced in schools and academies throughout County Durham and Darlington, and supports children and young people (aged 4-16) affected in any way by domestic abuse.
The project is a collaborative initiative involving Durham Constabulary, Darlington Borough Council, Durham County Council and schools and academies in the area.
How does it work?
The scheme provides a method of sharing information between the police, local councils and schools. It enables the designated Key Adult within the school or academy to be provided with information, explaining that a child was present in a household at the time that an incident of domestic abuse was recorded as having taken place.
Operation Encompass is not about asking the school to do any more than provide immediate support to the child whilst in attendance at school following an incident in the home. It is designed to reinforce safeguarding and ensure that a child's wellbeing is of paramount importance.
Operation Encompass originally launched in Plymouth in February 2011, to address shortcomings in the early sharing of information with schools. Since then Encompass has been rolled out across a number of areas in the UK with positive outcomes for many children and young people.
The scheme began in County Durham and Darlington in early 2017. Since then, more and more schools and academies are opting in to the scheme, so that more young people receive the appropriate support and protection they need. Operation Encompass improves multi-agency sharing of information and builds upon the trust that already exists between them.
How domestic abuse can affect children and young people
National research shows that in 90% of cases of domestic abuse, children were present in the household at the time of the incident. Witnessing domestic abuse has a significant effect on children.
Many children do cope with and survive abuse, displaying extraordinary resilience. But witnessing or experiencing domestic violence represents a serious risk to children in our society.
The stress of living in a household where domestic abuse is a feature can lead to: withdrawal; aggression or bullying; tantrums; vandalism; problems in school, truancy, speech problems, difficulties with learning; attention seeking; nightmares or insomnia; bed-wetting; anxiety, depression, fear of abandonment; feelings of inferiority; drug or alcohol abuse; eating disorders.
What is happening locally
There are two types of support given to children and young people through Operation Encompass, Overt support and Silent support. Here are some examples of the available support provided through the scheme:
- Overt support: This includes meeting physical needs (e.g. providing breakfast or lunch, or a school uniform), 1 to 1 support with a mentor, providing a school buddy, making changes to their daily school routine or assessing and supporting their health or emotional wellbeing.
- Silent support: This includes ensuring the child or young person knows who they can talk to if needed, lenience to school rules, different expectations regarding their behaviour and school work and checking collection arrangements at the end of the school day.
Current position in County Durham:
As of March 2017, approximately 130 schools have opted in to Operation Encompass. Additional schools are being encouraged to sign up through direct mailing and raising awareness of the scheme. Schools which are participating so far have been extremely positive about the project and welcome the sharing of information.
Current position in Darlington:
ALL 38 Darlington schools have agreed to participate. 34 of them attended the initial launch event on 05 January 2017 where they received training on the protocol and the impact of Domestic Abuse on children and young people, and the other four schools have since joined the scheme.