Pharmacists threatened with knives, syringes and guns, survey reveals

Pharmacists threatened with knives, syringes and guns, survey reveals
File photo.

The union representing the nation’s pharmacists has said some of its members have been threatened with knives, syringes and guns - but are less likely to report crimes to gardaí than they were a year ago.

The Irish Pharmacy Union has published the findings of its Crime Survey, and has claimed it is evidence that there is need for a more visible garda presence in communities.

    The survey has found that:

  • 75% of pharmacies were the victims of crime last year with 81% of these experiencing multiple incidents;
  • One in four pharmacies that were subjected to crime described the incident as ‘violent’;
  • 93% of pharmacies that were victims of crime experienced shoplifting and 11% a break-in, while the percentage experiencing fraud increased to 19%;
  • 13% of pharmacists experienced a raid in 2018;
  • Pharmacists are less likely to report crime to the Gardaí than a year previously;
  • Fake tan is the single most commonly stolen item (50%).

President of the IPU Daragh Connolly said the fact that 17% of pharmacies have had controlled or other prescribed drugs stolen in the last year was “the most sinister and concerning” example of crime experienced.

“Ireland’s pharmacies are at the centre of communities nationwide, it is unacceptable that they are persistently subjected to high levels of crime,” he said.

“This is a threat that cannot be ignored any longer. The Gardaí need to be tasked with tackling this issue and be given the resources required to do so in a meaningful way.

“Shoplifting continues to be the most prevalent crime against pharmacies. Fake tan is the single most commonly stolen item along with other cosmetics and perfume. Meanwhile, almost a quarter of pharmacies (24%) have had cash taken,” he said.

“Pharmacists nationwide are being threatened with knives, syringes and even guns (in 21% of cases where a weapon was used). This is a terrifying ordeal for any staff or patients to experience who have the misfortune to witness a violent raid.”

Mr Connolly called for a more visible Garda presence in communities.

“Only 68% of pharmacies who were victims of crime last year reported those crimes to the Gardaí, which is a decline of from 73% the previous year.

“A third of these (32%) said that they had a lack of faith that the criminal would be charged. While 65% of those who did report a crime were pleased with the Garda response, unfortunately 35% were not.

“This indicates once again the clear need to provide the Gardaí with the resources needed to tackle crime against communities and community businesses.”

Meanwhile, separate research by Ipsos MRBI, commissioned by MSD Ireland, has found 15% of those polled considered health websites to be ‘very trustworthy’.

Levels of trust in social media and online discussion forums polled lower at 4% and 5% of respondents respectively.

More than 70% backed the introduction of a registered trust mark confirming that health information online has been verified by a recognised medical authority.

Almost 85% of respondents believe their GP or family doctor is a very trustworthy source, followed by a medical or surgical consultant (78%) and pharmacist (68%).

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