Overall crime against pharmacies fell slightly last year, but there was a concerning increase in the levels of violence being encountered by pharmacy staff, a new study reveals.
According to the Irish Pharmacy Union’s annual pharmacy crime survey, some 40% of crime victims suffered at least one violent incident last year, up over a third since 2019.
Cork-based pharmacist and president of the IPU, Dermot Twomey, said the findings were “deeply concerning.”
“The use of weapons is very common and too many pharmacy workers have encountered knives and even guns,” he added.
Mr Twomey said there is “a definite feeling” that pharmacies suffered as a result of remaining open during the various lockdowns with 64% of pharmacists saying they felt this made pharmacies more vulnerable to crime.
Pharmacies cited being one of few businesses open, with fewer people on the streets, and a lack of Garda presence as contributing factors to the rise in crime during these periods.
According to the survey, 65% of all pharmacies were victims of crime over the past twelve months, down slightly from 72% in 2019.
Shoplifting remains the most common offence, impacting 87% of pharmacies which reported experiencing crime, while some 14% of pharmacies were the victim of a raid.
Of pharmacies who have experienced crime, 8% suffered the theft of prescription medicines and 15% had controlled drugs stolen.
“These medications are controlled for a reason,” Mr Twomey said, “if taken without appropriate clinical guidance, they are potentially extremely dangerous.”
The survey also revealed cosmetics (84%), fake tan (48%) and supplements (33%) are the most commonly stolen items in Irish pharmacies.