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Man charged following suspected knife attack in Boots pharmacy

A man has been charged after an incident in a Boots pharmacy that saw a man taken to hospital with “injuries suspected of being caused by a knife”, Cumbria Constabulary has said.

Cumbria Constabulary announced last week (January 20) that a 28-year-old man had been “charged with wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm and possession of a bladed article in a public place”, following an “incident” in a Boots pharmacy in Kendal town centre.


James Smith, 28, of Collinfield in Kendal, was “arrested immediately” after the incident that took place on Wednesday afternoon last week (January 18) and charged on Friday morning, it said.


Read more: 3-minute briefing: Key findings from C+D’s crimes in pharmacies investigation


The incident occurred at around 3.15pm in Boots in Stricklandgate in Kendal, it added.

“Following the incident, a man in his 30s was taken to hospital with injuries suspected of being caused by a knife or other bladed article”, Cumbria Constabulary said.

However, his injuries “were not believed to be life-threatening” and he was released from hospital, it added.

Read more: Boots’ clampdown on crime sees staff at extra 225 pharmacies get body cams

A spokesperson from Boots said: “We can confirm that there was an incident between two customers in our Kendal store on 18 January 2023."
"We are offering additional support to our team members and are assisting the police with their ongoing investigation,” they added.
It remains unclear whether any pharmacy staff were injured.


Incident “taken extremely seriously”


Acting detective inspector Lee Brumpton said: “Any report of an assault involving a knife is taken extremely seriously.

“In this instance, police and our [North West Ambulance Service NHS trust] colleagues responded swiftly to the incident and the suspect was under arrest and the injured man receiving treatment within minutes.”

Read more: Pharmacy hit with £3.5k repair bill after vandals smash windows

The police force continues to “urge anyone who witnessed the incident or the moments leading up to it to come forward in order to help officers with their ongoing investigation”, he added.

Anyone else with information that “might assist” should also contact Cumbria Constabulary online quoting incident number 121 of January 18 2023 or by phoning 101, it said.

Those with information can alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, it added.

A spokesperson for Barrow Magistrates' Court, where Mr Smith appeared on Friday (January 20), told C+D that the case has been referred to Carlisle Crown Court for February 17.


Aggression against pharmacy teams


The incident comes as pharmacists report increased aggression and physical violence in pharmacies.

Last year, C+D’s crime in pharmacy investigation revealed that at least 27,385 reports of crimes in pharmacies were received by police authorities between 2019 and 2021. But while the frequency of threats of abuse and violence grew over the pandemic, pharmacy teams reported fewer crimes overall to the police.

C+D launched a #NoExcuseForAbuse campaign calling for ringfenced funding for security measures in pharmacy, after NHS England announced a £5 million support package for GPs to improve their security measures.

In June, Knights Pharmacy told C+D it had introduced security guards and a “support guardian” to offer counselling to staff, after witnessing a “steep rise” in abuse directed at its pharmacy teams.

And Boots announced in August that pharmacy teams in over 300 Boots pharmacies would wear body cameras while on shift as part of the multiple's bid “to reduce incidents of violence and aggression”.

The following month, C+D revealed that eligible community pharmacy contractors in Greater Manchester and Bolton could apply to get some of their security costs offset through dedicated funding.

Meanwhile, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s fourth annual workforce wellbeing survey this month revealed that 44% of respondents had experienced physical or verbal abuse in the past six months.


Read all of the findings from C+D’s crimes in pharmacies investigation in our dedicated hub and sign our petition asking for commissioners to provide community pharmacies with funding to cover additional security measures.

Have you been on the receiving end of abuse or aggressive behaviour from patients? Share your experiences on the C+D Community or if you’d prefer to remain anonymous, please contact [email protected].

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