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Operation Encompass - a simple idea keeping children safe

In her latest blog, Alison explains Operation Encompass and how it has a significant impact in keeping children safe.

In last week’s blog I wrote about much of the work being carried out across Devon and Cornwall to keep people safe in all our communities.

There are a lot of projects underway and this week I am going to focus on one of those projects – and it is one of the most high profile. Operation Encompass – a super simple idea, with its roots in Devon that is now helping to keep children safe all over the country.

Although Encompass started in Plymouth and was devised by former Police Sergeant David Carney-Haworth and his wife Elizabeth, actually implementing it across the Force has not been without its issues. As is often the case police IT systems were an obstacle.

But thanks to the dedication of some officers such as now retired Assistant Chief Constable Andy Boulting, Chief Inspector Sarah Hobson and Detective Mel James, this simple idea is now making such a difference to the safety of our community.

Together these committed individuals, through a common goal of tackling domestic abuse, have helped keep our children safer.

To understand Operation Encompass try to imagine arriving at school the morning after you have heard and/or seen one of your parents being beaten by the other. You have not slept and you have had no breakfast. Your home is in disarray. You don’t have all your school uniform on or your PE kit and now you are expected to sit in your classroom. You are worried about your parents and want to be at home but you are also worried about what will happen when you do go home at the end of the day.

This is happening in each of our schools every day and, in about half the police forces in England and Wales, their structures do not allow for the reporting to schools of domestic abuse incidents meaning those vulnerable children don’t get the support and nurture that they need when they need it most.

Operation Encompass was created to address this issue.

Research from across the world clearly shows that a child who is exposed to or who experiences domestic abuse will suffer emotional and psychological harm. But we also know that, with the right immediate support and the damage can be limited.

Operation Encompass responds to the criticism of agencies made in virtually every Serious Case Review (SCRs) following the death of or serious injury to a child or young person. In a recent examination of 66 serious case reviews only one which did not specifically identify the lack of information sharing as an issue of concern. By sharing information with schools, the police enable that support to be given.

So what is Operation Encompass?

Put simply it is a unique police and education early intervention safeguarding partnership which ensures that a child’s school is informed, prior to the start of the next school day, that there has been an incident of domestic abuse to which the child or young person has been exposed to.

The information from the police is passed via a phone call to the school’s designated safeguarding lead, or their deputy, which ensures the police are passing information on to someone with the right training who understands how to manage this confidential information.

The school staff then ensure support is given, they can make the child’s day better and make their tomorrow better and, as a child victim said, ‘if you are that child, believe me, that’s all you really want’.

To measure the impact of Operation Encompass let’s look at two cases, one prior to Operation and Encompass and one after it was implemented.

Case 1: A head teacher cites a case of a year six child, predicted to achieve Level 4 in her SATs, only achieved Level 2 and 3. The school could see no reason why the child had performed so badly until July, when the school received details showing that the weekend prior the SATs there had been a domestic abuse incident in the child’s home.


Case 2: A mother suffering domestic abuse stated that her five year old son had begun to imitate her partner’s violent behaviour - spitting, swearing and hitting her. Once the school became aware of the abuse through Operation Encompass immediate and continued support was given and the child’s behaviour changed.

Operation Encompass is in place in 33 forces in England and has been cited in several high profile reports. It has proven to be sustainable with significant impact:

Ofsted have also recognised the efficacy of Operation Encompass

You can find out more information here: www.operationencompass.org