New scheme to help domestic abuse victims launched
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Victims of domestic abuse are being offered 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 more difficult to ask for help during lockdown.
Victims of domestic abuse will be able to use the codeword ANI in participating pharmacies (including all 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.
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.
Detective Superintendent Steve Bean said: “The lockdown is difficult for everyone, but more so for those who are forced to stay at home with someone they are frightened of. The Constabulary are still here and ready to help.
"We are concerned that long periods of having to stay indoors, possibly feeling unwell and concerned about the future could place extra strain on relationships which could escalate into abuse.
"For those already at risk the lockdown may limit their opportunities to get help. The Ask for ANI scheme could prove a lifesaver and we are pleased to be supporting it.”
Martin Surl, Gloucestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “This scheme is a positive step towards providing more support for those who are not safe at home. My office works closely with Gloucestershire’s domestic abuse support services, so we know what a lifeline Ask for ANI could be for victims.
"I would like to remind those in danger that they are entitled to leave their home to seek refuge or support without breaking any lockdown rules.”