As Durham’s Safer Communities Portfolio holder I helped secure funding to support a pilot scheme in County Durham in 2017 when I secured financial support from local elected members who agreed to helped to fund the pilot.

Encompass supports children and young people (aged 4-16) affected in any way by domestic abuse by improving multi-agency sharing of information and builds upon the trust that already exists between them.

The project is a collaborative initiative involving Durham Constabulary, Darlington Borough Council, Durham County Council and schools and academies in the area.

How domestic abuse can affect children and young people

National research shows that in 90% of cases of domestic abuse children were present in the household at the time of the incident. Witnessing domestic abuse has a significant effect on children.

Many children do cope with and survive abuse, displaying extraordinary resilience. But witnessing or experiencing domestic violence represents a serious risk to children in our society.

The stress of living in a household where domestic abuse is a feature can lead to: withdrawal; aggression or bullying; tantrums; vandalism; problems in school, truancy, speech problems, difficulties with learning; attention seeking; nightmares or insomnia; bed-wetting; anxiety, depression, fear of abandonment; feelings of inferiority; drug or alcohol abuse; eating disorders.

Current position in County Durham:

Approximately 130 schools initially opted in to Operation Encompass and additional schools are being encouraged to sign up through direct mailing and raising awareness of the scheme. Schools which are participating so far have been extremely positive about the project and welcome the sharing of information.

Current position in Darlington:

ALL 38 Darlington schools have agreed to participate. 34 of them attended the initial launch event on 05 January 2017 where they received training on the protocol and the impact of Domestic Abuse on children and young people, and the other four schools have since joined the scheme.

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