Operation Encompass roll out to schools in the Northern and Western Trusts

Thursday 23 March 2023

PSNI announce that schools across the Northern and Western Trust areas are to join Operation Encompass


Commenting on the PSNI announcement of the Operation Encompass roll out to schools in the Northern and Western Trust areas, Joanne Barnes, Nexus CEO, said; 

“We welcome the latest roll out of Operation Encompass to Northern and Western Trust areas and look forward to its complete roll out across Northern Ireland this Summer,  

“There is a misconception that children aren’t impacted by domestic abuse if they “aren’t in the room” at the time physical violence occurs – we know this isn’t true, and sometimes physical violence doesn’t have to happen for domestic abuse to occur. The impact of coercive control, for example, can have huge repercussions.” 

The Domestic Abuse and Civil Proceedings act 2021 now recognises children as victims in the own right and Operation Encompass can take the pressure off children who may feel they can’t talk about what they’re experiencing. 

Joanne continued: “This gives teachers the opportunity to see a child’s behaviour in the context of domestic abuse and enables them to support the child to process and understand what has been happening, rather than reacting negatively to perceived and potential ‘poor behaviour’ which can inadvertently revictimise the child.  

Many incidences of domestic abuse and abusive relationships go unreported. For instance in the same area (Southern and South Eastern Trust areas) and for the same time period (September 2021 until January 2023) when the PSNI contacted schools 2,137 times, the Domestic and Sexual Abuse Helpline received 2,311 calls alone*, and many more will not have reached out for support from the Helpline. 

Joanne explained: “This means that potentially over 170 children, the equivalent of almost 6 classrooms of children, who may have been impacted by domestic abuse, didn’t get this specific support. 

“Therefore, it is important that alongside Operation Encompass, consistent early intervention and prevention work is carried out within schools to ‘catch’ those children who slip through the net or who may experience domestic abuse in the future.” 

Nexus’ Healthy Relationships workshop is the most requested workshop by schools and youth groups. It equips children, young people and school staff with information about domestic abuse, abusive relationships and coercive control. It gives young people the language to express what is happening and how they are impacted so they are more likely to reach out for support when they need it. 

Joanne concluded: “Our Early Intervention and Prevention team have reported receiving disclosures from young people after delivering these workshops. We have been able to address this with them and the school to make sure they too are receiving the support they need after being impacted by domestic abuse and abusive relationships.” 

“Effective and consistent Relationships and Sexuality Education must become a mandatory part of the NI curriculum.” 


Notes to Editors 

*There may have also been emails and webchats from the same areas, however these can only be reported on an NI wide basis. 

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