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Pharmacists say they experienced significant increases in violent incidents during pandemic

Almost two thirds of pharmacies have been the victim of crime in the last year.

A NEW STUDY conducted by the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) found that chemists and their staff felt they were left more vulnerable to crime as the result of lockdowns.

The IPU said that while overall crime against pharmacies fell slightly there was a concerning increase in the levels of violence being encountered by staff.

In total, 65% of all pharmacies were victims of crime over the past 12 months, 14% of pharmacies were also the victim of a raid and 15% have had controlled drugs taken

The study also found that 64% of pharmacists believed that remaining open during the lockdown made their business more vulnerable

Dermot Twomey, President of the IPU said it is deeply concerning that pharmacies are being targeted in this way.

“At a time when crime rates nationally fell significantly, burglaries alone have fallen by 35%, it is concerning that pharmacies only saw a very slight drop in overall crime rates. Shoplifting remains the most common offence, impacting 87% of pharmacies which reported experiencing crime.

“The theft of cosmetics (84%), fake tan (48%) and supplements (33%) is all too common,” he added. 

However, according to Twomey, the increase in violence is deeply concerning.

“The number of pharmacists experiencing violence increased dramatically over the past year. 40% of crime victims suffered at least one violent incident, up over a third in just one year. The use of weapons is very common and too many pharmacy workers have encountered knives and even guns.

“While this is upsetting and costly there is a more sinister problem emerging with the theft of medicines. 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 and, if taken without appropriate clinical guidance, they are potentially extremely dangerous.”

The IPU called for more garda resources to be given to increase their visibility in communities across the country. 

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