Pharmacies launch codeword scheme for domestic abuse victims

15 January 2021

The Government has teamed up with independent pharmacies and Boots to launch a domestic abuse “Ask for ANI” codeword scheme that will enable victims of domestic abuse to access much-needed support.

This initiative comes as Business Minister Paul Scully has written an open letter to employers offering guidance on how they can offer support to their staff (see Employers reminded of duty to support survivors of domestic abuse).

The Ask for ANI scheme (Action Needed Immediately) will allow those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal that they need help and access support.

When they use the codeword, a trained pharmacy worker will offer a private space where they can discover 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.

The scheme will be promoted using discreet social media adverts and paid search, with pharmacies given promotional material to display in store to signal to victims that they are participating.

The scheme will be initially available through the 2300 Boots stores across the UK as well as 255 independent pharmacies. There will be an ongoing sign-up process open to all pharmacies available on the Home Office website.

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”.