New scheme aims to support young domestic abuse victims

From left, Detective Inspector Lesley Wheatley of Northumbria Police, Cllr Joan Atkinson, Tony Gill, Head Teacher at Headworth Lane Primary School, Karen Davison and Annlei Inkster, Deputy Head Teacher Dunston Hill Community Primary School.
From left, Detective Inspector Lesley Wheatley of Northumbria Police, Cllr Joan Atkinson, Tony Gill, Head Teacher at Headworth Lane Primary School, Karen Davison and Annlei Inkster, Deputy Head Teacher Dunston Hill Community Primary School.

A new support service set to be launched in South Tyneside for young people affected by domestic abuse.

Operation Encompass involves the council, Northumbria Police and all schools and academies in South Tyneside sharing information and working together to provide additional support to better safeguard children involved in a domestic abuse incident.

Each school and academy will appoint two members of staff to take on the role of Key Adults who will receive information each morning about any incidents relating to domestic abuse that their pupils may have witnessed or been involved in.

This week saw the appointed Key Adults receive specific training on how to provide the right level of support to affected children.

Coun Joan Atkinson, lead member for children, young people and families, said: “At the moment young people who have witnessed or been involved in an incident of domestic abuse come to school obviously distressed, upset and unprepared for the day.

“By working more closely together we will ensure that trained staff within all our schools and academies are made aware of incidents early on so that they can provide the right support to our children and young people.”

The scheme will cover all South Tyneside pupils between the ages of four and 18.

Coun Tracey Dixon, Chair of the Community Safety Partnership, added: “Similar schemes operated throughout the country have proved very popular and resulted in enhanced outcomes for children.

“In an ideal world, no child would have to witness or be involved in domestic abuse. However, the world is not perfect so providing timely and appropriate support to those young people who need it is vital.”

Operation Encompass will be launched in South Tyneside next January. All parents will be sent a letter from their child’s school informing them about the scheme.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird, said: “Children can also suffer the effects of domestic abuse, often in silence. Operation Encompass is about giving vulnerable young people in South Tyneside a voice. It offers early intervention and support when children need it most. In fact, in the words of a victim who has benefited from Encompass - What it can do is make a child’s day better. And when you are that child, believe me that’s all you really want.”