Operation Encompass, an innovative project that launched in Lincolnshire in January 2020 covering all schools in the County, is now in operation in Early Years Settings.
Since its launch, Operation Encompass has helped to safeguard and support school children who are experiencing domestic abuse, and now, children in nurseries, pre-schools and with Childminders, will be included in the scheme.
Children who witness or endure incidents of domestic abuse can be left frightened, confused and conflicted. They might directly witness the abuse, hear the abuse from another room, see injuries or distress in a loved one or be physically hurt trying to stop the abuse. All of these scenarios can be incredibly distressing for a child.
Following such an incident, children may arrive at school, nursery or pre-school in an emotional state. They may be withdrawn, upset, afraid or angry. Where previously a school or Early Years Setting may not have been made aware of police attending a domestic abuse incident at the home, Operation Encompass now ensures that appropriately trained safeguarding staff have this information so they can offer the appropriate support to the child. The scheme includes sending a notification to health visitors if the child is 4 years or under.
Insp James Hoyes leads the Encompass scheme for Lincolnshire. He said, “Domestic abuse in the home of a child always has an impact on the child. It can be devastating for them. Operation Encompass means that the setting the child attends, who play a pivotal role in their children’s wellbeing and safety, have a better understanding of why a child may be behaving differently or may need extra support and care. Having operated successfully in schools, we are very pleased to be extending this scheme to younger age groups. It means all children in school and Early Years Settings will be better understood, better supported and better protected from harm following a domestic abuse related police visit to their home.”
How does Operation Encompass work?
After we receive a report of abuse from a home where children were present or usually reside, brief information will be shared with the school or early years setting directly from Lincolnshire Police. This information will be handled by the establishment’s Designated Safeguarding Lead. This ensures support can be provided as quickly as possible so the child involved can feel safe and listened to.
Each Designated Safeguarding Lead has been fully trained to liaise with the Police and Children’s Services. They are able to ensure the right support is made available to the child following the disclosure of a domestic abuse incident.
The Designated Safeguarding Lead will be informed that there was an incident of domestic abuse that the child may have witnessed or been involved in, but no further details are given.
By knowing that the child has had this experience, the school is in a better position to be supportive and understanding of the child’s needs and possible behaviours.