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City of London: Steady surge in reports of crimes in pharmacies

Reports of crime committed in pharmacies in the City of London increased steadily over a three-year period, C+D can exclusively reveal.

The City of London Police revealed the extent and severity of crimes that pharmacists and pharmacy staff witnessed in 2019, 2020, and 2021, providing data in response to C+D’s freedom of information (FOI) requests.

Crimes in pharmacies rocketed by 42.6% in the area during that period, according to the data. While there were 89 reports for crimes committed at pharmacy premises in 2019, this number rose to 119 in 2020 and to 127 in 2021*.


Shoplifting on the rise – with Boots hit hard


There were 76 instances of theft or shoplifting in the area in 2019, reaching 110 in 2020 and 116 in 2021 – marking a 52.6% increase over the three-year period, according to the data provided by the City of London Police.


Read more: Pharmacies hit by violent crime, as police record over 1k incidents in 2021


The police force also shared the names of the affected pharmacy businesses when providing data for 2019 and 2020.

Boots pharmacies in the City of London submitted a staggering 151 reports for theft or shoplifting across the two-year period, according to the data analysed by C+D.

C+D has approached Boots for comment.

What’s the difference between the City of London Police and the Metropolitan Police?

Established in 1839, the City of London Police is the smallest force in the UK, responsible for policing the City of London, or ‘Square Mile’ area. The clusters it polices are Liverpool Street, Monument, and Fenchurch Street on its eastern boundaries and Bank, Barbican, and Fleet Street on its western side.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police holds responsibility for 620 square miles – or 32 boroughs across London, excluding the City of London. It serves “more than eight million people” in London. 


Opposite trend for wider London area


Meanwhile, reports for crime within or in the vicinity of pharmacies across Greater London have seen a decrease between 2019 and 2021, according to data shared by the Metropolitan Police.

Nine hundred reports for such crimes were recorded by the police force in 2021, down from 1,112 in 2020 and 1,362 in 2019.

However, the police force cautioned that “some of these offences could have happened outside or in the vicinity of the chemist. This could be the only connection to the chemist and will not have a true reflection to all crimes that have happened within, against or people that work within the chemist”.


See how the number of reported crimes in London pharmacies changed between 2019 and 2021 by clicking on the different tabs on the image below




Local Safer Neighbourhood Teams work with the businesses that have been affected by these issues specifically as part of their duties, offering crime prevention advice where necessary, according to a spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police. 


Public order offences increased in Greater London


While the total number of reported crimes across Greater London has steadily decreased over the last three years, reported public order offences are on the rise. 

Reports for such crimes increased by 43.3% between 2019 and 2021 – from 60 in 2019, to 70 in 2020, to 86 in 2021.

C+D reported yesterday that at least 1,240 reports of violent crimes – which includes violence against a person, public order offences, arson and criminal damage – at premises registered as a ‘pharmacy’ or ‘chemist’ were received by the 32 UK police forces that provided data to C+D for 2021.


What counts as an offence under the Public Order Act 1986?

Under Public Order Act 1986, public order offences include rioting, affray, drunk and disorderly behaviour, inciting racial or religious hatred or assaulting emergency workers.

Source: Crown Prosecution Service

“Brave” pharmacy teams should not have to put up with crime


Leyla Hannbeck, chief executive of the Association of Independent Multiple pharmacies, called for a “more robust police and courts response” to crimes committed in pharmacies.

“Our brave and hardworking pharmacists and their colleagues should not have to put up with abuse, violence and theft as a part of their day-to-day work providing healthcare in communities,” she added.

Meanwhile, Jasmine Shah, head of pharmacy services at the National Pharmacy Association (NPA), said it was “appalling” that there are so many crimes committed against pharmacies and pharmacy teams.

“Worst of all is aggressive behaviour towards dedicated pharmacy staff, who give so much of themselves in the service of their communities,” she said. “They deserve to feel safe at work and should never be subjected to intimidation or violence of any kind.”

The NPA is “in dialogue” with the National Business Crime Centre about safety precautions and will also meet the pharmacy minister Maria Caulfield to talk about “this important matter”, she added.


*This article is based on data made available to C+D at the time of going to press


The findings presented in this article are the results of a wider C+D investigation into crimes in pharmacies and are the starting point of our campaign #NoExcuseForAbuse. Sign up to our newsletter and follow us on our social media channels to stay up to date with the latest findings.

If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article, Pharmacist Support has provided a list of resources to turn to for support.

Have you/your team been the victim of crime while at work? Did this involve violence and/or harassment? Share your experiences on the C+D Community or email [email protected] if you wish to remain anonymous

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