Force highlights numbers of children affected by domestic abuse
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More than 2,000 children were recorded as present at domestic abuse incidents last year.
Cleveland Police’s latest available figures reveal that officers recorded at least one child present when attending 2,247 domestic incidents*.
Domestic Abuse Detective Inspector Jayne Downes said: “We’ve shared these figures to highlight the difficult experience of many young people.
“These figures equate to children being recorded as present at 16 per cent of all domestic abuse incidents we attended and that’s a significant percentage.
“Witnessing domestic abuse is very distressing for children.
“Children might see or hear what’s happening from another room, notice a parent’s injuries or be coping with the aftermath of abuse.
“We want to encourage those affected by domestic abuse or the friends and family of those affected to report it to us so we can help the children involved.”
Cleveland Police works closely with local authority and charity partners to assist children affected by domestic abuse.
This includes Operation Encompass which recognises following a domestic incident at home children may arrive at school upset and unprepared.
Operation Encompass is a confidential process, process funded by the Police and Crime Commissioner, where police notify trained specialists in schools so support can be put in place.
The Force also runs a ‘Through the eyes of a child’ scheme, which encourages officers to look at domestic abuse from the perspective of a child.
DI Downes added: “Our ‘Through the eyes of a child’ scheme encourages officers attending domestic abuse incidents to record childrens’ presence, to speak to them and to make sure we are aware of how they’re affected.
“We recognise that often many incidents of abuse have occurred before a victim has the courage to contact us.
“It’s likely that children will have witnessed some, if not all, of a pattern of abuse and it’s only by recording that we can work with partners to address it.”
Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said: “Children are often the hidden victims of domestic abuse, witnessing horrific incidents involving the people closest to them, in their own homes.
“I invested in Operation Encompass to ensure children and young people affected by domestic abuse get the support they need once they go back to school and try to regain some sense of normality and safety, a right that every child should have.
“We must also recognise the impact witnessing abuse has on vulnerable young people and through training I’m commissioning on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), professionals have a better chance of intervening at an early stage and preventing them from becoming victims or perpetrators themselves.”
* Figures for time period April-December 2019