Crime against pharmacists is reaching ‘crisis level’, warns union

Three quarters of pharmacies have been victims with a quarter of incidents ‘violent’

The Irish Pharmacy Union said crimes against pharmacy staff were ‘extremely worrying and utterly unacceptable’. Photograph: iStock

Crime against pharmacies have reached "crisis level" as a new survey shows 77 per cent have been a victim of crime, the Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) says.

The IPU Crime Survey 2016, which was published on Thursday, found 23 per cent of the pharmacies that responded described the incident as “violent”.

The research showed one in five of the cases where there was a robbery or raid the perpetrators had a weapon, with a knife used in 81 per cent of the cases and a gun in 18 per cent.

Daragh Connolly, IPU president, said crimes against pharmacy staff were "extremely worrying and utterly unacceptable".


“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,” he said.

“It is not an exaggeration to say that crime against pharmacies has reached crisis levels.

“ 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.”

The majority, a total of 92 per cent,of the 130 pharmacies surveyed across the country at the start of this month reported they had experienced shoplifting. Fake tan and cosmetics were the most common items stolen.

The survey showed 78 per cent of the pharmacies had experienced two or more incidents of crime.

Almost three-quarters of the pharmacists reported the crime to the gardaí and 66 per cent of these were “happy” their case was dealt with effectively.

However, 33 per cent of the pharmacists decided not to report a crime as they felt the perpetrator would not be charged.

The union is calling for tougher sentencing and a more visible Garda presence to deter crime against pharmacies.

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty

Rachel Flaherty is Digital Features Editor and journalist with The Irish Times