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New Operation Encompass scheme will help police protect children

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A charity-based scheme has been launched in Lancashire to link schools with the Police to help protect children from domestic abuse.

Operation Encompass initially launched in a number of locations across the UK in 2011 as a trial, and has proven so effective that it is now being rolled out throughout the country. The scheme enables schools and Police to partner up, creating a more effective means of communication between them.

Confidential and Secure

The scheme ensures that key information passed on from school to Police or vice-versa about domestic abuse incidents is only shared with designated staff members under the strictest confidence – no details are widely shared in order to protect the children it is serving. This enables the immediate and discrete recognition of the child’s situation by an individual named as the “Key Adult”, ensuring a secure and sympathetic environment is provided and the broader effects of abuse are addressed.

The aim of this information sharing process is to ensure that every child involved in any domestic abuse-related incidents receives the appropriate on-going support they need, and to make sure that existing safeguarding measures are being effectively provided. Operation Encompass will function alongside any police investigations.

What will Operation Encompass set out to do?

Operation Encompass is essentially an early information sharing partnership. What the scheme will set out to do in Lancashire will be to enable Police to work with schools to give children who have experienced an incident – even indirectly – the support they need. This begins prior to the next school day, ensuring plans are in place for when the child arrives in the morning and so that the Key Adult can discuss with the child what they need and how they would like to be supported.

Why was Operation Encompass launched in Lancashire?

Experiencing domestic abuse is harmful to children; it is often referred to as an Adverse Childhood Experience and can lead to emotional, physical and psychological harm, as well as potentially creating long-lasting issues such as the development of depression, stress, anxiety and other psychological issues.

In Lancashire and across the country, Operation Encompass aims to reduce the negative effects of domestic abuse on children by making it simpler and easier for immediate support to be provided.

On the Operation Encompass website, they state their goal as simply: “Making a child’s day better and giving them a better tomorrow.

Coordinating the scheme for Lancashire Police is Detective Superintendent Joanne McHugh, who said: “We know that there are damaging, long-term effects for children who live in homes where domestic abuse takes place. They are often the ‘hidden’ victims and their voices don’t always get heard.”

“We also know that the police are generally not called after one domestic abuse incident – in fact, statistics show on average we aren’t made aware until several incidents have already taken place, many of which may have been witnessed by children. This is why it is imperative that we seize every opportunity to make sure those children are offered the necessary support.”

“At Lancashire Police, our primary aim is to keep our residents safe and feeling safe, and we hope this shows our commitment to doing just that. Op Encompass is a very simple but very effective scheme which will help safeguard some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.”

Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw also added: “We know that over 90% of domestic violence incidents are witnessed by children so I am really pleased to see Operation Encompass rolled out across Lancashire.

For more information about our family law solicitors, or to talk to a member of our family law and children matters team in confidence, please call 01282 433 241.

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