A scheme to support children who have been affected by domestic abuse is being rolled out in Eastbourne schools.
Operation Encompass aims to provide early reporting of domestic abuse that occurs when children are present.
Sergeant Rob Adams is spearheading the scheme across East Sussex. He spoke to the Herald about why it is so important.
“If we attend a domestic incident with a child involved we should be submitting a referral to the school to let them know, so they can put safeguarding in place to look after the child,” said Sgt Adams, who has been with Sussex Police for 13 years.
“I think it’s a brilliant idea. Officers work shifts and come and go from quite dramatic interventions but won’t be there the following day to give the child that bit of support that they need. The schools are best-placed to be the first contact to make sure the pupil is alright,” he added.
Operation Encompass provides communication between police forces and key adults at schools.
The scheme is meant to ensure a secure and sympathetic environment is provided at the school and the broader effects of abuse are addressed.
Sgt Adams said, “There was an example with one child having an exam the next day. If you’d been up all night with that and you were supposed to sit a GCSE the next day, what chance do you have? Operation Encompass gives kids the best chance of getting the support they need that next day.”
He said, “There’s been a real gulf between adults and children where children view the police negatively and we are not very good at talking to children sometimes.
“This is a chance to do a little bit and readdress that challenge and say we are here to help. I’m hoping to get 100 per cent of East Sussex schools involved.
“It can’t be a bad thing. Information sharing is a good thing.”
So far, across the county, Sgt Adams and his team have signed up 180 of the 229 schools – including Willingdon, Cavendish, and St Catherine’s in Eastbourne.
To find out more about Operation Encompass, visit www.operationencompass.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org