IPU

Crime against Pharmacies Reaching Crisis Levels

Irish Pharmacy Union Crime Survey 2016

  • Three out of four pharmacies the victims of crime
  • One in four incidents described as ‘violent’
  • Vast majority of pharmacies victims of more than one crime
  • Tougher sentencing and a more visible Garda presence required to address the scourge of crime against pharmacies

The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) Crime Survey 2016, published today, reveals that pharmacies nationwide are under attack from criminals with three out of four pharmacies (77%) experiencing some form of crime, including shoplifting, robbery and raids.

78% of these experienced two or more incidents, with a significant 23% describing the incident as ‘violent’. Worryingly, in one in five cases where there was a robbery or a raid, the perpetrators had a weapon, with a knife used in 81% and a gun in 18% of these cases.

The findings from the survey were described by IPU President Daragh Connolly as “shocking” and he was particularly concerned at the level of violent crimes against pharmacy staff, which he described as “extremely worrying and utterly unacceptable”.

Almost one in four cases against pharmacies are ‘violent’ in nature, involving not only a physical threat but also a substantial psychological threat to victims. It is difficult enough to run a pharmacy in the current environment without being the target for criminal activity that not only has a significant cost factor but more importantly has a detrimental impact on pharmacy staff. It is unacceptable that pharmacy owners and their staff are viewed as ‘soft targets’ where the probability of repeat offences is high and the risk of apprehension and penalty is low.”

The research also found that:

  • 92% of pharmacies who were victims of crime experienced shoplifting, 19% robbery, 15% fraud and 6% experienced a raid.
  • 71% reported the case to the Gardaí, with 66% happy that their case was dealt with effectively/adequately.
  • One-third of pharmacists (33%) who decided not to report a crime did so because they felt the perpetrator would not be charged. 37% had no confidence in the Garda response.
  • 97% invested in CCTV to protect their staff and their businesses.
  • In one in five cases (21%), cash was taken. In 12% of cases, over-the-counter drugs were taken and controlled drugs in 9% of cases. Cosmetics and fake tan are the most likely items to be shoplifted from pharmacies.

Mr Connolly continued, “It is not an exaggeration to say that crime against pharmacies has reached crisis levels. The appalling level of crime should send out a strong message to the authorities that unless immediate action is taken, criminals will continue to see retail businesses, including pharmacies, as an easy target. The belief that criminals will not be charged and the revolving door scenario in our Courts for the few that are charged, is giving the impression to thieves that their criminal activities will go unpunished. It is imperative that a strong message goes out that criminals will be apprehended and dealt with appropriately by the authorities, including tough mandatory sentencing. If not, this sinister and frightening pattern of crime on pharmacies will continue, to the detriment of pharmacists and their staff, and the local communities we serve.”

Respondents to the survey identified more visible policing (93%), faster Garda response (88%) and tougher sentencing (86%) as the most effective methods for reducing crime going forward.

Ends

Further information: Jim Curran, Director of Communications & Strategy, IPU, Ph: 086-2640469

Editor’s Note: The survey among a sample 130 pharmacies nationwide was undertaken in the week beginning 3 January 2017.