Northumbria Police has started to record cases of children abusing their parents and hopes systems it has set up will be rolled out nationally.
The constabulary responded to more than 500 such incidents in the nine months after first registering them in March 2019.
The change of practice follows a study the force commissioned from Northumbria University into child-to-parent violence. Northumbria Police wanted to improve its understanding of what is often termed childhood challenging violent or aggressive behaviour after a domestic homicide review of a case involving a mother and son.
The research team found a lack of coordination and information sharing between the health, mental health, education, social care and criminal justice services. This meant the police are often unaware of known concerns.
Senior lecturer Jeannine Hughes, who has been researching domestic abuse for two decades, said: “We know that there are a lot of families living with this in silence. This is a form of abuse that exists, and we need to be able to provide targeted interventions to help people who find themselves in this situation. The police get called when it reaches crisis point, which is too late.”
Detective Chief Inspector Louise Cass-Williams of Northumbria Police said: “ It is important that when dealing with cases of child-to-parent violence, there is a focus by police on appropriate intervention by partners rather than progressing solely down a criminal justice route.”
There are increasing incidences of this “newer kind” of domestic abuse with children attacking parents amid rising tensions inside homes during the coronavirus lockdown the victims’ commissioner for England and Wales, Dame Vera Baird, told the House of Commons’ justice committee
The Independent newspaper quoted her as saying: “There’s some suggestion of abuse by older children on parents … which is probably suggestive of kids wanting to go out and not being allowed to. We’re talking teenagers, and that is a worry.”