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Police and schools join forces to protect children

2 Dec 2019
  • New system to help and support children affected by domestic abuse

  • Joint scheme launched by Hertfordshire Constabulary and county council

  • Schools can give extra support to children if they need it

A new system to provide help and support to children in families affected by domestic abuse is launched in Hertfordshire today (Monday 2 December).

Operation Encompass is a scheme by which police inform the child’s school soon after a domestic abuse incident has occurred within their family. The school can then supply extra support to that child, should it be needed.

Hertfordshire Constabulary has been running a similar system on an informal basis for some time. However this new joint approach between police and Hertfordshire County Council’s Children’s Services formalises this work meaning information will always be shared in a timely way.

Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Cheek, who leads the force’s Domestic Abuse Investigation & Safeguarding Unit, said: “Children are often innocent bystanders where domestic abuse has occurred. They may have witnessed abusive behaviour itself or been present during high levels of stress and anxiety within the home.

“We know this can affect a child’s wellbeing so we have worked in partnership with Hertfordshire Children’s Services to make sure timely information is given to schools following a domestic abuse incident.”

Jenny Coles, director of Hertfordshire County Council’s Children’s Service, said: “We are committed to working in partnership with the police to tackle the harm caused by domestic abuse and we recognise the impact that it can have on a child’s education and overall wellbeing.

“Receiving prompt information from police means that teachers can act to support a child at the time when they may need it most.”

Operation Encompass is a charitable organisation set up in 2011 by David and Elizabeth Carney-Haworth OBE – a police officer and school head teacher respectively.

Notifications are sent to schools on the following working day of an incident, before 8.30am in the highest risk cases.

Schools are not involved in the evidence-gathering process for any subsequent police investigation. Their role is purely about supporting the child.

The launch comes during the national ‘16 days of action against domestic abuse’ campaign. Hertfordshire Constabulary works closely with partners including Hertfordshire County Council to raise awareness of domestic abuse and where people affected by it can find support. 

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