Esther Rantzen is to become a patron of child safeguarding scheme Operation Encompass, an initiative championed by the Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner.
The announcement follows a feature which appeared on BBC 2’s Victoria Derbyshire show, on which the Commissioner was interviewed about the success the scheme is having in the force area, where it has helped more than 1,000 children.
The scheme was developed in 2011 by David and Elisabeth Carney-Haworth, a now retired Detective Sergeant from Plymouth and his headteacher wife. It involves police informing a child’s school if the child has witnessed domestic abuse at home the night before and enables the school to make sure that appropriate understanding and support is in place at the soonest opportunity.
In Northumbria, a force-wide roll-out is currently in progress following a successful pilot which went live in Gateshead in 2015. Within six months of the pilot going live, Operation Encompass led to 276 separate incidents of domestic abuse being reported to schools so they could provide children affected by this abuse with appropriate support.
At present, it has been adopted by 15 out of the 43 police forces in the UK and Commissioner Baird is appealing to roll it out at national level.
“The support for Operation Encompass is really gathering momentum and it is great to hear of Esther Rantzen’s commitment to the scheme,” she said.
“Far too many children are affected by domestic abuse, they can literally be there in the room as it happens. A fractured home life like this can mean the next day they might go to school without the proper uniform, without eating breakfast, without being able to concentrate. In fact, they must be in danger of being told off when what they really need is a friendly face and some support.
“That’s where this fantastic scheme comes in, as the police pass on information about what’s gone on the night before to an key adult in the school, extra care can be given to that child who is likely to be anxious and scared or traumatised.
“The scheme has worked very well in Gateshead and it can work very well elsewhere. What we need now is for the Government to take responsibility and ensure it is adopted by every police force, for every school, for every child.”
For further information about Operation Encompass in Northumbria, visit http://www.northumbria.police.uk/advice_and_information/operation_encompass/