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  • Writer's pictureNikki Latham

Ask for ANI – help for domestic abuse victims

Victims can discreetly signal for help from the safety of participating pharmacies

Did you know that victims of domestic abuse can discreetly signal for help from the safety of a pharmacy which is participating in the Ask for ANI scheme? ANI stands for Action Needed Immediately.

Victims use the codeword ANI in participating pharmacies, including all Boots stores and some independent pharmacies in Dorset to let staff know that they require an emergency police response or help with contacting a helpline or specialist support service.

Pharmacies which are taking part display posters with a distinctive hand symbol to let customers know that they can approach their staff to seek help.

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.

Superintendent Stewart Dipple said: “Dorset Police understands that perpetrators of domestic abuse frequently actively place their victims in a cycle of fear, controlling and coercive behaviour that is difficult to break free from. Attempts to break free from this cycle of abuse and control can elevate the risk to the victim and their family. Protecting the most vulnerable members of our society is a priority for us, and we have worked to improve victim support and perpetrator management and effective working with the criminal justice system to ensure that victims are safeguarded in every reported incident of domestic abuse.
“Ask For ANI is another option for victims to reach out and get the help they need to break the cycle of abuse they endure. We encourage anyone who is affected by domestic abuse in any form to have the confidence to report it either to the police or, if that is not the best route in the first instance for victims, through schemes like Ask For ANI or through one of our partner agencies who can support them.”

Police and Crime Commissioner, David Sidwick, said: “The ‘Ask for ANI’ scheme is a vital service for anyone facing domestic abuse. This crucial initiative could provide an all-important lifeline to someone trying to escape an abuser. In Dorset, there are several support services for victims of domestic abuse, many of which can be accessed without involving the police if this is not ideal for victims initially. I remain committed to supporting victims, ensuring their welfare and safeguarding is at the heart of my Police and Crime Plan.
“Domestic abuse is a devastating crime that can ruin lives. I will continue to encourage our community safety partners to raise awareness of the Ask for ANI scheme and hope it will help more families to live without fear.”
You can find out which pharmacies in your area are participating in Ask For ANI and more about the  the service on the Dorset Police website. Here you will also find details of how pharmacies can sign up to Ask For ANI.

The scheme was developed by the Home Office with the help of partners including the domestic abuse sector, pharmacy associations and the police.

This news story has been produced by Chesil Radio's News Team, for more information please visit:


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