‘Ask for ANI’ codeword scheme to be introduced at pharmacies for domestic abuse victims
Victims of domestic abuse are being given a new codeword scheme to help them signal for help from the safety of a pharmacy.
Ask for ANI (Action Needed Immediately) has been developed by the Home Office to allow domestic abuse sufferers to signal they need emergency help to a chemist.
It is being rolled out this month to help those who have felt isolated and found it difficult to ask for help during lockdown.
Victims of domestic abuse will be able to use the codeword ANI in participating pharmacies (including Boots stores and participating independent pharmacies) to let staff know that they require an emergency police response or help contacting a helpline or specialist support service.
Participating pharmacies will display posters in their window and around the pharmacy to let customers know that they can approach their staff to seek help. Any information shared will be treated confidentially. Boots, Ross-on-Wye, are participating in the scheme.
When a victim uses the codeword or asks for help, the member of staff will ask the victim to accompany them to the consultation room. They will then check whether the victim is in danger and wants the police to be called. If so, the staff member will offer the use of a phone to dial 999 or make the call on the victim’s behalf.
If the victim is not in an emergency situation, the staff member will support the victim to contact a national domestic abuse helpline or local support service. They may also contact the police via 101.
Safeguarding Minister Victoria Atkins said: “I know that lockdown restrictions are especially difficult for those experiencing domestic abuse. Home should be a safe place, but for those confined with an abuser it is clearly not.
The codeword scheme will offer a lifeline to all victims, ensuring they get urgent help in a safe and discreet way.
“Throughout this pandemic this Government has invested millions in ensuring that vital services including helplines, counselling and refuge accommodation remains accessible during this challenging period.”
Boots UK Chief Pharmacist, Marc Donovan said: “With over 170 years at the heart of community care, Boots pharmacies have long been a place where people can turn to for help and advice on their local high street. Since the start of the pandemic, our 2,300 stores in communities across the UK have taken on increased importance as a place of safety for those who need one.
“In addition to the designated Safe Spaces in our pharmacies, we hope with the new codeword scheme we can continue to help people access the support they need quickly, safely and discreetly.
“This is something our pharmacy teams feel very passionately about, and we are proud of their continued dedication supporting those in need at a time of such extraordinary challenge.”