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Domestic abuse codeword scheme 'Ask for Ani' launched at pharmacies

'Ask for Ani' is a new domestic abuse codeword scheme launched by the Home Office today with support from Boots and other independent pharmacies.

Merseyside Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy and Merseyside Police have welcomed the new codeword scheme which will give victims of domestic abuse a chance to ask for help from the safety of their local pharmacy.

‘Ask for ANI’ has been created to help victims get emergency support in a safe and discreet way by using the codeword ‘ANI’ (Assistance Needed Immediately) in their community pharmacy. This alerts staff and means that the victim needs an emergency police response or needs help to contact a domestic abuse specialist support service.

Participating pharmacies will display posters in their window and around the shop to let customers know that they can approach a member of staff to seek help.

When a victim uses the codeword or asks for help, the member of staff will ask them to accompany them to a consultation room. They will then check whether the victim is in danger and want the police to be called. If so, they will be given a phone to dial 999 or they will make the call on the victim’s behalf.

Alternatively, if the victim does not need emergency help at that time, the staff member will assist them to contact a national domestic abuse helpline or local support service. They may also contact the police on the non-emergency 101 number.

The scheme is voluntary and all participating pharmacies, including all Boots stores, will display posters to show victims they can assist.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said:

“This is a very welcome and simple idea which has the ability to make a huge difference for people who can be at great risk.

“I want those suffering from domestic abuse to know they are not alone and that help and support is available. I will be working with my community safety partners to raise awareness of the ‘Ask for ANI’ scheme to ensure victims know they can use the codeword to access emergency support.

“I will also be encouraging as many local pharmacies to join this initiative as possible and my thanks go to all the pharmacies who have already signed up to participate. Pharmacies are safe environments and, especially at the moment when other places of shelter are closed, pharmacies can give people who are at risk a simple way to get vital support."

Detective Chief Inspector Bev Hyland from Merseyside’s Police’s Protecting Vulnerable People Unit said:

“Merseyside Police fully supports the Ask for ANI scheme, and our staff are fully briefed and will respond to any calls received. This scheme is particularly welcomed, at a time when victims of domestic abuse may feel isolated and unable to reach out for help.

“I would like to reiterate that Merseyside Police will respond to all incidents of domestic abuse, and victims will be dealt with in a sensitive manner. There is also support available to victims through domestic abuse support services across Merseyside, who have still been operating throughout lockdown.

“Victims should not suffer in silence, and I am hoping the Ask for ANI scheme, will provide another way in which victims of domestic abuse can seek help.”  

If you are in immediate danger, always call 999.

If you ring 999 and are not in a safe position to speak to us then cough or tap the phone and press 55, when prompted. This will alert the operator that you need assistance.

Participating Boots pharmacies across Wirral include:  

  • Boots, Grange Road, Birkenhead
  • Boots, 36 Liscard Way, Wallasey
  • Boots, Bromborough Rake Precinct, CH62 7AD
  • Boots, Commonfield Road, Arrowe Park, CH49 7LP
  • Boots, The Crescent, West Kirby, CH48 4HL
  • Boots, Hoylake Road, Moreton, CH46 6AF
  • Boots, Telegraph Road, Heswall, CH60 0AL
  • Boots, Warren Medical Centre, Thingwall, CH49 5PL
  • Boots, Teehey Lane, Bebington, CH63 8QT
  • Boots, Woodchurch Road, Prenton, CH42 8PE
  • Boots, Church Road, Bebington, CH63 7PG
  • Boots,  Upton Road, Noctorum, CH43 9SE
  • Boots, Homlands Drive, Prenton, CH43 0TX
  • Boots, Arrowe Park Road, Upton, CH49 0UB
  • Boots, Greasby Road,Greasby, CH49 3NQ
  • Boots, 30-32 Hoylake Road, CH41 7BX
  • Boots, Croft Retail Park, Welton Road, Bromborough, CH62 3PN

You can find the full list of participating pharmacies across Merseyside on the Merseyside PCC website.