At their next meeting on Wednesday 24 March, cabinet members will consider a report on Operation Encompass. If approved, next month Barnsley Council, South Yorkshire Police and the Barnsley Schools Alliance will join in partnership to launch Operation Encompass, a national initiative that ensures that schools are made aware when a child is at risk from domestic abuse.
Operation Encompass is a process used to inform schools of domestic abuse incidents that the police have been called to since the previous school day, where children have been present or affected by it.
The purpose of information sharing is to make sure schools have more information to support children’s safeguarding. Knowing that the child has had this experience, the school is better positioned to understand and support the child's needs and possible behaviours.
Operation Encompass will complement existing safeguarding procedures and the already robust processes used by schools across Barnsley, South Yorkshire Police and Barnsley Council. The council are in the process of engaging with schools and training sessions on Operation Encompass, delivered by South Yorkshire Police's Domestic Abuse Manager, will take place over the coming weeks, so that this process can be implemented after the Easter holidays.
How will it work?
Schools in Barnsley all have an identified key adult or adults, and in most schools, this will be the existing safeguarding lead. Police will share information with the council’s integrated front door screening team, providing a list of children each morning who may have been affected by a domestic abuse incident the previous day. Staff will then identify the school the child attends and e-mail the school before 9am. They’ll inform the Head Teacher or a Designated Safeguarding Lead that a child at their school may have been affected by a domestic abuse incident.
The school will be informed that there was an incident and the child’s name, date of birth and address.
The staff in contact with those pupils will then be in an informed position to support them in a way that is appropriate for that child or young person, either with silent or overt support. The sharing of information should not provoke a proactive response to individual children by the school or professional, but informs their response to any presenting behaviour, and ensures that the child is offered sensitivity and understanding following a distressing incident.
Bob Dyson, the Independent Chair of Barnsley Safeguarding Children Partnership, said: “Operation Encompass is a great opportunity for us to build on the existing, strong safeguarding practices here in Barnsley. The process has proven to be successful in neighbouring areas, and across England. We know that safeguarding is everyone’s business, so I’m pleased that we’re working with local partners to further safeguard our children and young people.”
Ch Supt Sarah Poolman from South Yorkshire Police said: “Being exposed to domestic abuse has a huge impact on the emotional wellbeing of children and it is our responsibility to support these children as best we can. Operation Encompass provides us as a partnership with further opportunities to safeguard and support children and is most welcomed.”
A Barnsley Schools’ Alliance spokesperson said: “Operation Encompass is a fantastic opportunity for partners across South Yorkshire to support children and young people who face domestic violence in their homes. Making sure schools are better informed and are able to meet the needs of children and young people will enable school leaders to make the next school day as good as it can be for the young person or child concerned. Barnsley Schools’ Alliance fully endorses this approach.”
For support on domestic abuse in Barnsley, call the Independent Domestic Abuse Service (IDAS) on 03000 110 110 or 24hr national helpline: 0808 2000 247, or visit the IDAS website for further help and support.
If you’re worried about the welfare of a child or young person, please visit our website at https://www.barnsley.gov.uk/services/children-families-and-education/safeguarding-families-in-barnsley/safeguarding-children-in-barnsley/worried-about-a-child/.