Domestic abuse victims will be given a codeword to help them escape from immediate danger, it was announced on Thursday.
Home secretary Priti Patel has said the codeword scheme will enable people to use the word in supermarkets and pharmacies and seek immediate help.
Writing about the scheme in the Daily Telegraph, Patel said it is aimed to help “someone who is emotionally and physically trapped, a trip to the pharmacy or supermarket may be their only escape from their abuser.”
Staff at major supermarkets and pharmacists will be trained to respond to the codeword by either taking the victim to a safe space within the shop and phoning the police or the national domestic abuse helpline.
The codeword is thought to comprise just three letters and will be promoted via a national campaign in the coming weeks.
“The scheme will be designed to be simple and easy to understand, but we hope it will save many lives,” Patel said.
“We know there is no single solution to prevent these hidden crimes and to protect victims, so when it comes to tackling them our ambition must be limitless.”
News of the scheme comes after the national domestic abuse hotline reported a surge in calls during lockdown.
The charity Refuge said calls on 6 April were up 120 per cent on the previous day.
While the dramatic increase shows that more women are asking for support during lockdown, it is important to recognise that the lockdown itself is not a cause of domestic abuse, Refuge said.
The charity added that the true number of women seeking help is likely much higher, with many in self-isolation finding it difficult to call for help during self-isolation.
If you need support, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge, any time of day on 0808 2000 247.
Refuge has a full team working round the clock to ensure as many women as possible who need support are able to access it.
You can follow this link and organise a safe time in which a member of the team can get in touch.