Pharmacies adopt government scheme to help domestic abuse victims

On the first anniversary of its launch, the Home Secretary Priti Patel today hails the success of the innovative scheme which enables those at risk or suffering from domestic abuse to discreetly signal their need for help from the safety of their local pharmacy.

In its first year, the scheme has provided emergency support to at least 100 victims across all four corners of the UK, with the figure expected to be higher due to voluntary reporting.

The innovative scheme is just one of a number of measures the government has taken to improve support for victims of domestic abuse over the last year, including giving more than £28 million to domestic abuse organisations and the introduction of a Domestic Abuse Commissioner. The government also introduced the landmark Domestic Abuse Act which will help millions of people by establishing a statutory definition of domestic abuse, supporting victims of all genders and giving police extra powers.

At the height of the pandemic, the Home Office launched the #YouAreNotAlone communications campaign signposting support to those at risk of domestic abuse. The #YouAreNotAlone campaign has reached millions of people through digital advertising, celebrity and influencer support and specialist community engagement activity with campaign materials translated into 16 languages.

As essential retailers with specifically trained staff on high streets across the country, pharmacies can provide a safe space for victims to sound an alarm if they are isolated at home with their abuser and unable to get help in another way. ANI is a codeword for Action Needed Immediately. 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 national or local domestic abuse helplines.

The anniversary of the Ask for ANI scheme comes as Parliament considers the final stages of the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, which will put further safeguards in law to support victims of domestic abuse, including giving victims longer to report offences to the police, so that abusers do not evade justice.

In another move, the Domestic Abuse Strategy will be published later this year and will seek to transform the whole of society’s response to domestic abuse in order to prevent offending, support victims and pursue perpetrators, as well as strengthen the systems in place to deliver these objectives.

The Home Secretary, Priti Patel, said: “Any form of domestic abuse is an abhorrent crime and this government is both increasing support for victims and ensuring that perpetrators feel the full force of the law.

“The Ask for ANI scheme has had a successful first year and is a great example of government, businesses and charities working together to provide vital support to victims. I urge all pharmacies to get on board with the scheme as we look to expand it and explore other spaces that could be used for the same purpose.

“As Home Secretary, tackling domestic abuse is a top priority for me and I am taking on board victims’ concerns and giving the police the powers they need to bring those responsible to justice.”