Police team tackling childhood trauma receives Police and Crime Commissioner award

A Gwent Police team that is working to improve the response from the police and partners to stressful and traumatic childhood experiences has been commended by the Police and Crime Commissioner for Gwent, Jeff Cuthbert.

Adverse childhood experiences include physical, emotional or sexual abuse, and experiences such as growing up in a house with domestic violence, mental illness, alcohol or drug abuse and parental incarceration.

The Early Action Together Programme was established in Gwent in 2018. To date the team has trained about 1300 police officers and 400 staff from partner agencies to recognise the signs of adverse childhood experiences, and ensure that children and their families are offered the right support.

Almost 900 children and 500 families have been supported since the start of the project.

The team received the Police and Crime Commissioner Partnership award as part of the Gwent Police Awards 2020.

Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert said: “The evidence shows that children who experience trauma are more likely to perform poorly in school and are more likely to become involved with crime.

“The team working on the Early Action Together Programme are ensuring that Gwent Police put safeguarding vulnerability at the centre of their policing approach when they are dealing with children and young people, and are working together with partners to ensure the best possible outcome for children and their families.”

The programme includes the roll out of Operation Encompass, where police will inform schools of any domestic abuse incidents that have involved or been experienced by children before classes start the following day, allowing the proper safeguarding support to be put in place.

It has also introduced a Safeguarding Senior Practitioner into Gwent Police Force Control Room. This role is the first of its kind in Wales and proactively monitors live incidents to provide advice, guidance and support to frontline police officers regarding safeguarding.

Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Tuck, who leads the Early Action Together programme, said: “The police is often the first agency to be in contact with children or families in need of support. Through recognising trauma and vulnerability in people and identifying the need for early intervention, we, working closely with our partners, are able to prevent problems before they escalate and help create better more positive outlooks for children and families.

“Through the programme we have developed a whole system approach to early intervention and prevention, giving officers and staff the skills to support or signpost those that need it. We have invested extensively in training for our officers and staff to recognise the signs of adverse childhood experiences; enabling us to provide the best possible response to the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“This work continues and our staff and partners remain committed to working together to provide the most appropriate support to those in need.”