Safe Spaces and the ‘Ask for ANI’ codeword

02 Sep 2020

The National Pharmacy Association is in discussions with the government about the implementation of a new codeword scheme to enable victims of domestic abuse to access support from the safety of their local pharmacy. It is a voluntary scheme and pharmacies are now being invited to register their interest in participating.

“Ask for ANI” (Action Needed Immediately) has been developed by the Home Office to provide a simple and discreet way for victims to signal to pharmacy staff that they need help accessing support from the police or other domestic abuse support services. Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse, regardless of gender, age, ethnicity, ability, socio-economic status, sexuality or background. This is why the Home Office considers pharmacies, used by people from all walks of life, as a suitable setting for the Ask for ANI scheme.

What to do if someone uses the codeword?

The scheme has been designed to enable pharmacy staff to respond to the use of the codeword using a simple and straightforward process:

  1. Offer to accompany the person to the consultation room or private space.
  2. Ask if they are in danger or in need of immediate help and want the police to be called.
  3. a. If yes, call 999 and inform the call handler that a codeword ‘ANI’ response is required. They will assess the situation and dispatch help.
  4. b. If no, share helpline details and offer a private space and a phone for the person to make this call themselves.

Free training and implementation guidance will be provided to equip staff with more detailed step-by-step instructions. Marketing materials will also be provided to enable pharmacies to signal that they are taking part in the scheme and staff are prepared to respond to the use of the codeword.

The ‘Safe Spaces’ campaign

Crisis support charity Hestia has launched a campaign called ‘UK SAYS NO MORE’. As part of this, the Safe Spaces initiative enables victims of domestic abuse to access information on specialist services in a quiet, private space within pharmacies. Ask for ANI and Safe Spaces can work together. If your pharmacy is already implementing Safe Spaces, free training guidance will show you how to further support domestic abuse victims who may need to use the ANI codeword. Co-branded Ask for ANI and Safe Spaces posters are available for you to inform victims that your pharmacy is taking part in Safe Spaces, and that staff will also respond to the ANI codeword.

How do I support ‘Ask For Ani’?

You can register your interest in adopting the Ask for ANI scheme at

You will receive information, including further details on how to implement the scheme, via the Home Office and NPA.