- 3 out of 4 pharmacies victims of crime.
- One in five 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 2015, reveals that pharmacies nationwide are being targeted by criminals with 3 out of 4 pharmacies (74%) experiencing some form of crime, including shoplifting, robbery and raids.
84% of these experienced two or more incidents, with 18% describing the incident as ‘violent’. Worryingly, in a third of cases where there was a robbery or a raid, the perpetrators had a weapon, with a gun used in 46% and a knife in 45% of these cases.
The findings from the Survey were described by IPU Vice-President Daragh Connolly as “extremely worrying” and “unacceptable”. Mr Connolly was particularly concerned at the level of violent crimes against pharmacy staff.
“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 who are subjected to these incidents. Almost one in five cases against pharmacies are ‘violent’ in nature, involving not only a physical threat but also a substantial psychological threat to victims. 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:
- 79% reported the case to the Gardaí, with 69% happy that their case was dealt with effectively/adequately.
- Nearly half of pharmacists (47%) who decided not to report a crime did so because they felt the perpetrator would not be charged.
- 94% invested in CCTV to protect their staff and their businesses.
- In one in five cases (21%), cash was taken. In 13% of cases, over-the-counter drugs were taken and controlled drugs in 10% of cases. Cosmetics and fake tan are the most likely items to be shoplifted from pharmacies.
Mr Connolly continued, “Pharmacists who are victims of crime say they are sick and tired of the revolving door approach, with many complaining that even when the criminals are caught they are not sufficiently penalised and are allowed to continue with their criminal activities. What is urgently required is a no tolerance approach from the judiciary and the Gardaí, with tougher sentencing and a more visible Garda presence required to address this scourge. If not, this sinister and frightening pattern of crime on pharmacies will continue, to the detriment of our members’ pharmacies and staff and the local communities we serve.”
Respondents to the survey identified more visible policing, faster Garda response and tougher sentencing as the most effective methods of reducing crime.