ESSEX Police have launched a pilot scheme in Thurrock to help safeguard children who witness domestic abuse at home.
Specialist officers are working alongside a number of schools, academies and Thurrock Local Safeguarding Children Partnership Council by running an initiative called Operation Encompass until the end of this academic year.
The operation will involve officers noting whether children are present at domestic abuse incidents before asking for their details such as their names, ages and the schools they attend.
They will then inform a designated contact within a school that one of their students has recently experienced domestic abuse. This will be done sensitively and in confidence.
Specific school contacts have received training to assess whether the children involved need further support.
This support could be overt or silent but will help children to remain in school and to continue learning in a safe and secure environment.
Chief Inspector David Miles, who is leading the trial, said: “Our officers attend domestic incidents every day where children are present and we need to ensure they are getting the best possible support.
“A child that experiences abuse within the home may bring behaviours into school that could result in a fall in grades, truancy or disciplinary action – when they actually need additional help.
“We want to schools inform schools as quickly as possible when one of their students has experienced a domestic incident in their home. We want to be their voice when they may not have one.
“This trial will allow us to fully assess the benefits of working more closely with schools before we consider introducing it to other educational establishments across other districts in Essex.
“I’d like to thank the Local Safeguarding Children Partnership and the schools involved, for supporting Op Encompass, which aims to help keep young people safer within our communities.”
Angela Rawlings, safeguarding officer at Belmont Castle Academy in Grays, said: “The safety of our children is paramount and we are delighted to be part of the pilot scheme for Operation Encompass in Thurrock.
“We understand that all types of domestic violence can have a detrimental effect on children, particularly their well-being, health and schooling.
“Children may arrive at school distressed, upset and unprepared for the day, this initiative helps us to provide support to children and parents who are experiencing domestic abuse at the earliest opportunity.”
The trial started on Thursday 2 January ahead of pupils return after the festive period.