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Coronavirus (COVID-19): the policing response and what you need to know

Avon and Somerset Police urges domestic abuse survivors to ‘Ask for ANI’

We are urging those at risk of, or experiencing domestic abuse to use the code word ‘Ask ANI’ when visiting their local pharmacy in order to access help and support.

‘Ask for ANI’  – launched by the Government in partnership with pharmacies across the UK – allows those at risk or suffering from abuse to discreetly signal they need help and access support.

If a pharmacist is asked for ANI, they will offer the victim a session in a private consultation room where they will be listened to, offered advice and guided through the process of calling the police, or a local domestic abuse helpline in order to access further help and support.

Neighbourhood Chief Inspector for North Somerset, Jess Aston comments: “’Ask for ANI’ is a much-needed lifeline for survivors of domestic abuse. The initiative offers an additional way for survivors to ask for help discreetly without needing to pick up a phone or draw attention to themselves. Victims can alert a pharmacist either verbally, or by passing a note, and will then be moved to a private consultation room where further support will be arranged either by calling the police or a local domestic abuse charity.

“We know perpetrators of domestic abuse will frequently use isolation as a tool to control victims, often limiting when and why they can leave their home. The pandemic and lockdowns have made it even more challenging for victims to seek support. This is why we urge anyone suffering from domestic abuse to seize the opportunity to use the codeword when you can in order to quickly and safely ask for help.

“It can be difficult to ask for help but we want to remind you that we are here and we can help you. You are not alone.

“If you or someone you know is at risk of abuse and needs help, please do not hesitate to call 101. Always call 999 in an emergency. If you can’t speak call 999 and dial 55 when you hear the operator. This will alert the phone operator to put you through to the police directly”.


Police and Crime Commissioner for Avon and Somerset Police, Sue Mountstevens said: “Experiencing domestic abuse is terrifying at any time let alone during the current lockdown and ongoing pandemic, and it is vital that survivors know what support is available. I believe ‘Ask for ANI’ will provide a simple, reassuring and discreet way for victims to access help and support and, to put it simply, could be a lifeline to victims and survivors.

“This scheme is another step in showing victims they are not alone; pharmacies are safe environments and will provide a place for victims and survivors to access help during a time when they might feel extremely isolated. Please remember that coronavirus household isolation and lockdown does not apply if you need to leave your home to protect yourselves or your family against domestic abuse.”


As quoted in a recent press release Boots UK Chief Pharmacist, Marc Donovan said:

“With over 170 years at the heart of community care, Boots pharmacies have long been a place where people can turn to for help and advice on their local high street.  Since the start of the pandemic, our 2,300 stores in communities across the UK have taken on increased importance as a place of safety for those who need one.

“In addition to the designated Safe Spaces in our pharmacies, we hope with the new codeword scheme we can continue to help people access the support they need quickly, safely and discreetly.

“This is something our pharmacy teams feel very passionately about, and we are proud of their continued dedication supporting those in need at a time of such extraordinary challenge.”


Download a full list of participating local pharmacies from HERE

To report domestic abuse call 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency. You can also report via our online reporting form HERE.

If you’re in an emergency and need the police  but can’t speak, call 999 from your mobile – your call will be answered by a BT operator. If you can’t speak but the operator decides you are in need of an emergency service you will be transferred to the Silent Solution System, you’ll hear a 20 seconds automated police message that will ask you to press 55 to be put through to police. If you press 55, the BT operator will transfer your call to the police. If you don’t press 55, the call will be terminated. See HERE for more information.

Visit www.thisisnotanexcuse.org for more information about domestic abuse and local support services.

Please find training materials and further information for pharmacies on Ask for ANI here: www.gov.uk/homeoffice/pharmacy-codeword-scheme