Safeguarding children exposed to domestic violence and abuse (DV&A) is one of the priorities for the Brighton & Hove Safeguarding Children Partnership (BHSCP) and our partner agencies. The impact of witnessing DV&A is significant, and children living in households where this is a factor are exposed to increased risks. Nationally approximately half of all child protection assessments have domestic violence recorded as a factor, and locally this figure is higher.
You may have already heard of Operation Encompass, which is a project, supported by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, that aims to safeguard and support children and young people who are involved in or affected by incidents involving domestic abuse. Witnessing domestic abuse is really distressing for a young person, who can often see the abuse, hear it from another room, see a parent's injuries or distress afterwards or be physically hurt trying to stop the abuse. Following such an incident, children will often arrive at school upset and unprepared. Operation Encompass aims to ensure that appropriate school staff are made aware early enough to support children in the best way possible.
Launched in 2011, in Plymouth, this project currently runs in many police force areas in the UK, including Sussex Police. BHSCP is committed to Op EnCompass and local schools have all been signed up to the initiative since 2018. At Blatchington Mill we have seen the benefits for students.
Operation Encompass does not replace or supersede existing protocols, or singularly address child welfare. The process should always be followed in conjunction with current safeguarding procedures and practitioners guidelines, and is designed to reinforce safeguarding and ensure children’s well-being is of paramount importance. You can read more about the aims and benefits of Operation Encompass at www.operationencompass.org.
How will it work?
All officers who attend a DV&A incident where there are children present will email a Key Adult at the child’s school with basic information. This will allow us to better support the child the next day, and help us put their behaviour into context.
The information shared by the police will tell your Key Adult:
- Whether the child was present – Y/N
- If they ordinarily resides at the location – Y/N
- If they ordinarily resides with an involved party – Y/N
- Time and date of incident
- Time and date of police attendance
- Sussex police reference
- Child’s name and date of birth
- Relationship of Involved parties to child
- Did the child witness the incident – Y/N
- Child spoken to by police – Y/N
Following the notification, appropriate staff will be more aware of the trauma that the child has recently experienced, and will be able to look out for their welfare and offer any additional support they may need at this time.
If you have any questions or concerns with regards to the initiative, please contact the Designated Safeguarding Lead at school