No.8: Operation Encompass
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The impact of domestic violence on children
‘In 2020/21 the NSPCC helpline responded to over 11,600 contacts about domestic abuse, an increase of 35% compared to 2019/20. Parents and carers reported that children experiencing domestic abuse had become withdrawn, sad, timid, emotional and in some cases displayed aggressive behaviour. Some parents and carers shared concerns that their children were having suicidal thoughts or had attempted suicide.’ NSPCC Learning Dec 2021
Professionals realise that being exposed to domestic abuse is classed as an adverse childhood experience and that the more adverse childhood experiences a child has the greater the negative impact upon their mental and physical health and well-being now and in the future.
Children can experience domestic abuse not only within their families but also in their own relationships; sometimes known as ‘teenage relationship abuse’.
What is Operation Encompass?
Operation Encompass is a partnership between police and schools. The principle of Operation Encompass is that ALL incidents of domestic abuse are shared with schools not just those where an offence can be identified.
Operation Encompass is the reporting to schools before 9am on a school day when a child or young person has been involved or exposed to a domestic abuse incident the previous evening.
The information is given to a school’s Key Adult (usually the Head Teacher or Designated Safeguarding Lead) to enable support to be given dependent on the needs and wishes of the child.
Operation Encompass does not replace statutory safeguarding procedures. Where appropriate, the police and/or schools should make a referral to local authority children’s social care if they are concerned about a child’s welfare.
What are the benefits?
- Earlier and more effective intervention to reduce the impact of the trauma on the child
- Improved information sharing and multi-agency responses to the child and family with quicker and better informed assessments of risk
- Reduced stigma and secrecy that may lead eventually to a more open discussion of domestic violence.
- Enables children to feel secure in talking about domestic violence to a trusted adult in school.
What can schools do to help?
The actions that school take following an Operation Encompass notification make a real difference to children and their families.
- Ensure that the Key Adult details are up to date on the Operation Encompass system, and if necessary, nominate a member of staff to complete the training (online training is now available)
- Add information about Operation Encompass on the school website, e.g. what is Operation Encompass and what school will do if a call is received
- Consider ways to support the family and child/ren (incl silent/covert), be that providing information about local support groups, a coffee and a chat, before or after school care, access to holiday clubs, the instigation of Early Help (see next section – responsibilities of the Key Adult)
- Provide a ‘Safe Space’ for victims of Domestic Violence and Abuse to use (a confidential space with DV&A leaflets & information, a place to talk, to make phone calls)
- Consider key members of staff completing DV&A training e.g. The Devon Domestic Violence and Abuse training
Responsibilities of the key adult
- You must be an Operation Encompass registered school to set up the information sharing process. If you are not or you need to refresh, please go to operationencompass.org which will take you through everything you need to do to become registered.
- The email address that you provide to Operation Encompass must be a secure email address i.e., restricted access. Secretarial or admin addresses are not secure and OP Encompass information will not be sent to these due to the sensitive nature of the communication. The @dsl and @head emails are acceptable but you must confirm that more than 1 person has access and that those persons are
- Must be a member of SLT and have attended the Operation Encompass training
- Must provide up to date contact numbers to the Police with an indication of the time from which he/she is available to take the Operation Encompass call
- Record Operation Encompass contacts for each child ensuring school actions and record of calls are kept in the same way and also linked with other Child Protection/Safeguarding information on the child
- All Deputies must have been taken through the confidentiality aspects of Operation Encompass prior to them being able to access the secure email account. Once this has happened then the relevant police contact should be informed of the identity of that Deputy
- Ensure that all staff understand the confidential nature of any information passed to them and that this information must be treated in the same way as any other Child Protection information
- Once the Operation Encompass emails are received, the Key Adult assumes responsibility for the information being acted upon within school, via either silent or covert support being offered to the child/children and families
Who should know about Operation Encompass?
- The Key Adult must inform parents that the school is part of Operation Encompass, using the basic template given to each school, which can be amended to suit the school’s individual requirements
- The Key Adult must inform the Governing Body that the school is part of Operation Encompass and the Governor with responsibility for Safeguarding should have a working knowledge of the project
- The Head/Governing Body and Key Adult should consider including information about Operation Encompass in the school’s prospectus, thus ensuring that all new parents are informed of involvement
- The Head/Governing Body and Key Adult should consider whether the information about Operation Encompass should form part of the school website
Operation Encompass: www.operationencompass.org
FearLess Breaking the cycle of abuse : FearLess – Home (fear-less.org.uk), 0345 155 1074
Safe Lives: www.safelives.org.uk
Torbay Domestic Abuse Service: Torbay Domestic Abuse Service (TDAS) – Domestic abuse services | Sanctuary Supported Living (sanctuary-supported-living.co.uk)
Plymouth Domestic Abuse Service: Plymouth Domestic Abuse Services (PDAS) – Domestic abuse services | Sanctuary Supported Living (sanctuary-supported-living.co.uk)
Safer Futures/First Light (Cornwall): https://saferfutures.org.uk/ 0300 777 4777
Devon Domestic Violence and Abuse Training: training courses