Pharmacies launch codeword scheme to offer ‘lifeline’ to domestic abuse victims
Date published: 18 January 2021
The scheme will be initially available through the 2,300 Boots stores across the UK as well as 255 independent pharmacies (pictured: Boots Rochdale Riverside)
Victims of domestic abuse will be able to access much needed support from thousands of pharmacies across the UK, thanks to a new scheme.
The Ask for ANI scheme allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support.
By asking for ANI, a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can understand if the victim needs to speak to the police or would like help to access support services such as a national or local domestic abuse helplines.
As an essential retailer based on high streets across the country, and with specifically trained staff, pharmacies can provide a safe space for victims to sound the alarm if they are isolated at home with their abuser and unable to get help in another way.
Backed by the government, the scheme was initially proposed by survivors as something that would have helped them.
The codeword scheme will be promoted using discreet social media adverts and paid search. Pharmacies will be given promotional material to display in store to signal to victims that they are participating.
Health professionals, social workers and Job Centres will also be asked to promote the scheme, alongside police, local authorities and specialist support services for victims.
The scheme will be initially available through the 2,300 Boots stores across the UK as well as 255 independent pharmacies.
There will be an on-going sign-up process open to all pharmacies.
Chief Executive of the National Pharmacy Association Mark Lyonette said: “Community pharmacies are about people, not just pills. There is a clear and urgent need to support victims of abuse and we want to play our part.
“The Ask for ANI alert mechanism is a discreet and sensitive way to help support some of the most vulnerable people in our society.”
The launch of the scheme comes as Home Secretary Priti Patel announces new laws to reform pre-charge bail which will allow for better protection to victims and witnesses in cases of violent and sexual offences, including domestic abuse.
The new measures will include removing the presumption against use of pre-charge bail, enabling police to impose strict conditions on more suspects in high-harm cases – including most cases of domestic abuse and sexual violence – and where there are real risks to victims, witnesses, and the public.
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