Domestic abuse: Operation Encompass given government funding for school link work

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

A charity supporting children who attend school following domestic abuse incidents has been awarded £163,000 in Home Office funding.

Operation Encompass is a system which ensures the police contact a school before the next school day if one of their pupils has been exposed to domestic abuse.

The idea is to allow a school’s safeguarding team to make sure the appropriate support is in place and the initiative was set-up by headteacher Elisabeth Carney-Haworth and husband David, a former police officer.

The scheme currently operates in some form in 33 forces in England and Wales and the new funding will support the roll-out of the initiative to all forces and allow Operation Encompass to “carry out an audit of existing systems and the effectiveness of the supportive interventions in place for children”.

Statistics show that as many as 1 in 5 children in the UK are witness to or exposed to domestic abuse. Those affected are four times more likely to go on and experience or perpetrate domestic abuse later in life.

Ms Carney-Haworth, who is headteacher of Torpoint Nursery and Infant School in Cornwall, said: “Imagine arriving at school after hearing or witnessing domestic abuse – you have not slept, had no breakfast, don’t have all your school uniform and your home is in disarray. Now you are expected to sit in your classroom and learn.

“This is happening in our schools every day and the current procedures in many police forces do not allow for the reporting to schools of domestic abuse incidents in a timely fashion.

“This funding from the Home Office will assist in ensuring that Operation Encompass is embraced fully by all police forces and that the partnership between the police and schools will enable them to work towards providing trauma-informed support.”

The funding comes after the Home Office launched an £8 million fund for projects designed to intervene early to help children who have been directly or indirectly affected by domestic abuse.

A draft Domestic Abuse Bill, which is due to be published in Parliament later this year is set to include measures such as introducing a new statutory definition of domestic abuse, new domestic abuse protection orders, and the creation of a domestic abuse commissioner.

Earlier this year, Operation Encompass received the support of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) after members voted in favour of a motion at the union’s annual conference to support the charity.

General secretary Paul Whiteman said: “We fully support the important and innovative work of Operation Encompass. It has proved to be very successful in the schools it has been trialled in, and this funding will help the scheme to be rolled out more widely.”

Julie Simpson, executive headteacher of St Barnabas Multi-Academy Trust in Cornwall, who proposed the motion at NAHT’s Annual Conference, said: “We really want Operation Encompass to go on to the next level now. It is such a simple concept, but it is so effective. It just requires one phone call from the police to a nominated key adult in a school, prior to 9am on the morning after a domestic incident has happened in the child’s home. Having that knowledge allows us to put support in place for the child immediately.”


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