UK launches codeword scheme to help prevent domestic violence

Coronavirus restrictions cause rise in domestic violence triggering a need in a new governmental scheme

Photo by Jasmine Wing

By: Lois Barker
Sub-edited: Jasmine Wing

The government has raised its efforts to tackle the rise in domestic violence as cases worsen as people are locked inside homes with their abusers.
The codeword ‘Ani’ can be used to alert pharmacists by victims. Ani, which stands for ‘Action Needed Immediately’, will allow victims to speak with pharmacists in private and can help victims receive help without attention being drawn to them.

Covid-19 has caused many people to be stuck at home with partners who are abusive. New statistics have shed light on this with two-thirds of survivors saying abusers used coronavirus restrictions to harm them further and 62% said their mistreatment worsened during the pandemic.

Ministers decided that pharmacies would be a good location for the scheme as they can stay open as essential retailers which people could visit unsuspiciously. Pharmacists will be given the relevant training to support the victims.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has lobbied for the scheme which has been launched at 2,300 Boots branches and 255 independent pharmacies.

The codeword scheme has been promoted across social media adverts discreetly and the government has funded the paid search on social media. Also, pharmacies have been given promotional material to display in stores to signal to victims that they are participating. Healthcare professionals, social workers and job centres have also been asked to promote the scheme, alongside police, local authorities and specialist support services for victims.

Reformed pre-charge bail laws

With domestic abuse survivors proposing more support from the government such as the codeword scheme, the government have also reformed the pre-charge bail laws which gives police officers the power to impose conditions on a suspect who is released before the police have gathered enough evidence or made a decision about charging them.

Employers

Another move to support victims of domestic abuse, Business Minister Paul Scully has issued a call to rally employers across the country to take some simple steps to ensure their organisation is spotting signs of domestic abuse and helping their staff find the right support. In an open letter to all UK employers, the Business Minister has outlined a few key, practical steps they can take to build awareness of domestic abuse, ensure they are noticing warning signs, and helping workers access the support they need.

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