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‘Operation Encompass should be in every police force area’, PCC Vera Baird tells Victoria Derbyshire

15th June 2016

Operation Encompass, a scheme which sees police forces and schools working together to support children who witness domestic abuse, ‘should be rolled out across all forces’, Northumbria PCC Vera Baird told the BBC 2 Victoria Derbyshire programme yesterday.

Commissioner Baird made the comments during an interview as part of a feature exploring how the scheme, a brainchild of David and Elisabeth Carney-Haworth, a now retired Detective Sergeant from Plymouth and his headteacher wife, was developed in 2011.

It has now been adopted by 15 out of the 43 police forces in the UK, including Northumbria, and is proving successful in safeguarding children and young people affected by domestic abuse.

Operation Encompass is a scheme whereby the police inform a child’s school if the child has witnessed domestic abuse at home the night before, enabling the school to ensure 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.

PCC Vera Baird, was joined on the Victoria Derbyshire programme by founders David and Elisabeth Carney-Haworth, Women’s Aid’s Polly Neate and HMIC’s Zoe Billingham.

Ms Baird, said: “It seems an obvious idea and once it emerged we were very keen to implement it here in Northumbria. 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. If made aware the school can provide appropriate assistance the impact of domestic abuse doesn’t impede a child’s learning and the child doesn’t feel they are left to cope on their own.

“The scheme has worked very well in Gateshead and is moving in the same direction in our other local authority areas – we are determined to have it fully adopted forcewide. Every single police force in the country should put this into place. In fact,  I would like to invite Elisabeth and David, the fantastic founders of the scheme along to the Association of Police and Commissioners so they can talk to all the PCCs about how straightforward the idea is – I’d be very surprised if they didn’t all take it on.”

Detective Chief Inspector, Deborah Alderson from Northumbria Police’s Safeguarding team, said: “Northumbria Police is committed to working in partnership, to safeguard and protect children, and to provide the best possible care and support for those affected by domestic abuse.

“Witnessing domestic abuse is really distressing for any young person who sees or hears it happen or notices a parent’s injuries or distress afterwards. Some children can even be physically hurt trying to stop the abuse so it’s vital they arrive at school feeling safe and listened to and through Operation Encompass we are working hard to keep children safe and make sure this happens.”

For further information about Operation Encompass in Northumbria, please visit:


photo L-R Zoe Billingham, David and Elisabeth Carney-Haworth, Polly Neate and PCC Vera Baird.