FIONA Bruce has met with Dame Esther Rantzen in Parliament as part of her ongoing work on strengthening families and 'Operation Encompass'.

Operation Encompass is a simple, effective initiative which shares police reports of domestic abuse incidents where children have been present with key adults at the schools they attended.

The calls to the school are made by police staff before the youngsters arrive at school the following morning, giving teaching staff ample time to prepare and offer whatever support the child needs.

Over the past few years the scheme has been rolled out first in a number of cities across the UK, then entire police force areas.

During that time the initiative has garnered praise from educational and police chiefs as well as domestic abuse and children’s charities.

After it was granted charitable status Dame Esther Rantzen – founder of the charity Childline – agreed to be the patron of Operation Encompass.

Children experiencing domestic abuse can suffer greatly from exposure to it. Domestic abuse has been identified as an Adverse Childhood Experience (ACEs), which can lead to emotional, physical and psychological harm which last into adulthood. The aim of Operation Encompass is to mitigate this harm by enabling immediate support.

In September last year the Home Office awarded the charity £163,000 to support the roll-out of the initiative to every force in England and Wales.

Fiona Bruce said: “I am delighted Esther took the time to meet me in the House of Commons to discuss how projects such as Operation Encompass can improve children’s lives.

"As our Strengthening Families Manifesto emphasises, early intervention in a child’s life is critical if each child is to flourish, enjoy life, and make the most of their natural skills, talents and gifts.

"It is so sad to think that a child’s education can suffer through no fault of their own. By police and schools having this system in place we can ensure these youngsters have the immediate support they need when domestic difficulties arise at home.

“It is unfortunate however, that Operation Encompass is not - as yet - a statutory obligation on the police nor any educational establishment, and that there are still areas of the country where this scheme has not been taken up which needs to happen.

"Domestic abuse and the harm it causes our children is a priority for this Government and all children should have access to the support they need and deserve from this fantastic scheme. “