11/01/2016 Stockton

Stockton’s young victims of domestic abuse to be supported

Children and young people in Stockton-on-Tees affected by domestic violence will receive specialist support from this week.

Police and partners are rolling out Operation Encompass across the 139 nurseries, schools, academies and colleges within the district.

It means police will inform education institutions that one of “their” children or young people has been involved – directly or indirectly -in a domestic abuse incident in the previous 24 hours.

A specially trained designated key adult will then intervene early and offer appropriate support to the child.

Children are often known as the “silent” victims of domestic abuse as the effect on them often manifests itself in their behaviour – they might become withdrawn, disruptive in the classroom or even physically lash out. 

Cleveland Police and partners’ work has already attracted interest from European counterparts, with the team due to meet Dutch ministers who have expressed an interest in launching Encompass, or a version, of it in their country.

The Stockton-on-Tees launch means that the whole of the Cleveland force will be covered by Operation Encompass and the team, led by former officer Shane Sellers, is delighted that they have achieved this three months ahead of schedule:

PCC Barry Coppinger said: “Launching Operation Encompass in Stockton means all our communities can be assured that children and young people will receive prompt and effective support should they be unfortunate enough to experience domestic abuse, whether indirectly or directly.

“I am delighted to have been able to fund the excellent work of the Encompass team and I am proud to be able to say we are now the first force in the country to deliver Encompass across the whole policing area.

“I am also impressed that Government officials in the Netherlands have approached our Encompass team to learn more about the work they do.  It is testament to the absolute professionalism and dedication of all involved and I congratulate them all wholeheartedly.”

Temporary Chief Constable Iain Spittal added: “Everyone has worked extremely hard to ensure Operation Encompass is up and running across the whole of Cleveland, well ahead of the March 2016 deadline they had set themselves.

“Protecting the most vulnerable in our society is an absolute priority for police and it is pleasing to see just how many children and young people this initiative has already helped.  We appreciate the invaluable support and enthusiasm from education professionals who have got on board.”

Councillor Ann McCoy, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “We believe that every child deserves a good start in life and that nobody should have to live in fear of harm. We know how damaging the effects of domestic violence can be on children’s lives and so we are pleased to be working with Cleveland Police and other partners to roll out Operation Encompass across Stockton-on-Tees. This kind of specially designed help can make a positive difference by providing appropriate support to children and young people at a difficult and upsetting time in their lives.”

Colin Morris, Chair of the Stockton-on-Tees Local Safeguarding Children Board, added:  “All partners in the Stockton-on-Tees Local Safeguarding Children Board are aware of the long term lasting effects that Domestic Violence has on children who witness it taking place within their home and between those who care for them. Putting in place support measures within their school settings, for such children who experience Domestic Violence should provide better wrap around care and support at a time of maximum disturbance and distress. The concept of Operation Encompass is therefore welcomed as it is simple and straight forward process with far reaching dramatic benefits. As Chair of the Stockton-on-Tees Local Safeguarding Children Board I and my fellow Board Members fully support this initiative.”