Domestic abuse victims will be able to “Ask for Ani” in pharmacies as part of a codeword scheme backed by the Government.

Thousands of pharmacies including Boots are taking part so victims can signal to staff that they need help, The Daily Telegraph reports.

From today, anyone who asks for help will be taken by a staff member to a space such as a consulting room where they can be put in touch with the police or support services and helplines.

It is in addition to an existing scheme, launched in May by the charity Hestia, which saw safe spaces installed in Boots’s consultation rooms for survivors to contact support services.

More than a hundred businesses, including Superdrug, Morrisons and independent pharmacies, have since joined in, with almost 5,000 safe spaces in place across the UK.

One in five offences recorded by police during and immediately after the first national lockdown in England and Wales involved domestic abuse, according to official figures.

Police recorded more than a quarter of a million offences flagged as domestic abuse related over March to June, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.