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Shoplifting tops pharmacists’ experiences of worsening crime

Exclusive Fifty per cent of 208 respondents to a C+D poll say levels of crime across the sector have worsened in the past year, with incidents of petty crime “sky high”

Half of C+D readers believe crime in pharmacies has worsened over the past 12 months, with one saying petty crime is "sky high".  

Forty per cent of 208 respondents to a C+D poll believed levels of crime in pharmacies had stayed the same and only 10 per cent said it had improved during the year.  

Pharmacy owner Peter Tinkler, who spoke out last month about his "gruesome experience" of being held at knifepoint during a three-hour siege in his Royal Mile Pharmacy in Edinburgh, agreed that incidents, particularly of petty crime, were on the rise. 

Fifty per cent of respondents to a C+D poll say levels of crime in pharmacies have worsened in the past year

More on crime in pharmacies

Staff 'extremely shaken' by controlled drugs robbery      

Pharmacy hostage compares ordeal to 'Tarantino       at its best'

Rowlands branch held up by armed robber        

Shoplifters were stealing anything they could get their hands on in his three pharmacies, he told C+D. Some customers were "out of control" in their behaviour, he added. 

Superintendent pharmacist Suraj Varia, of Jade Pharmacy in London, said the general consensus among colleagues in the 13-strong chain was that crime had got worse in the past year. Its Hounslow branch was badly damaged in a break-in and suspected arson attack on Boxing Day last year. He said incidents of shoplifting, in particular, had increased.  

"We have people coming in and stuffing things in their baggy clothes," he told C+D. "I think we have to be more vigilant and more alert, as people are more opportunistic," he said.  

However, Anthony Anumba, pharmacist manager at Cox and Robinson, Beanhill, Buckinghamshire, said crime rates had stayed the same over the past year, with just "a couple" of shoplifting incidents.  

Numark information pharmacist Michael Stewart pointed out that results were based on pharmacists' perceptions, not reported crime figures, and so did not necessarily represent real crime levels.*

"We are aware of a small number of Numark members who have sadly been affected by crime at their pharmacy. Crimes have involved arson, burglary and a hostage situation," Mr Stewart added.  

Pharmacist Support said staff who were struggling to cope with the effects of crime, including difficulties in returning to work and anxiety issues, could call the charity's Listening Friends helpline on 0808 168 5133.  

Have you been a victim of crime in your pharmacy? Send us your stories or tell us your concerns by emailing [email protected] or call 0207 921 8194.

*C+D is analysing actual crime levels in pharmacies through freedom of information requests to all UK constabularies and the results will be published in the coming weeks.

What are the most frequent incidents of crime that you witness in your pharmacy?

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Pharmacist Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

Your life is worth more than the drugs. If you feel under threat comply with the thieves. Give them what they want and go home alive and without a bashing

Christopher Plail, Community pharmacist

Low staffing levels combined with high staff workloads are an open invitation to shoplifters.

Leon The Apothecary, Student

I think this is a fair point. There's been plenty of times in my career so far where it's simply not possible to keep an eye on the shop whilst dealing with queries and preparing medications. I've never once had to chase someone however, I simply walk to the security room, pull up the person's PMR (as usually the case is) and review the CCTV footage - then call the police whilst making a pot of coffee for myself and the officer when he comes along.


I f multiples can't be bothered to provide minimum staffing levels, they can take the lot and it serves them right....
No skin off my back!!!

Michael Stewart, Community pharmacist

I also gave the following advice to pharmacists:

• GPhC premises standards 3.4, 4.3 and 5.2 require that premises, medicines and equipment are secure and safeguarded from unauthorised access. As part of any inspection, pharmacists will need to provide supporting evidence that they have met these standards.
• Pharmacists should conduct a risk assessment with regards the security of their premises, including dispensary, shop front and any related premises such as store-rooms/warehouses:
o Consider who has access to keys and alarm codes and how regularly these are changed.
o Consider alternative means of entry to the premises such as windows, roofs, roof-lights and ensure they are secure at all times.
o Consider staffing levels at the start and end of the day. Ensure staff are not left alone and that they are fully trained on securing the premises.
• When transferring cash, for example when depositing the takings with a bank or post office:
o Ensure this is done regularly to minimise loss should the worst happen
o Vary the time of day that cash is transferred as well as the staff member who carries it - do not follow a set routine.
o Ensure the cash is hidden from public view when carrying it
• Review your business continuity arrangements in case of serious crime such as arson or burglary. Guidance is available on NumarkNet.
• Report all crime, however minor, to the police
• Never confront or fight back against violent or threatening behaviour - your premises and contents are insured and costs can be recovered - your life cannot!


Pharmacists should conduct a risk assessment with regards the security of their premises, including dispensary, shop front and any related premises such as store-rooms/warehouses:

No offence but what planet on you on..These rules are just there to cover the back of the multiples..
Which locum is gonna carry out a risk assessement twhen there are scripts waiting....FROM THE DAY BEFORE

You dare speak out.........easily replaced
one word

Michael Stewart, Community pharmacist

Hi Del Boy

No one is suggesting a locum would be responsible for this. It is the owner, manager or superintendent who would be held to account by the GPhC and it would be their responsibility to ensure compliance with their standards, not yours.

I was a locum for ten years so I can relate

J Gregory, Other healthcare professional

Many thanks for the advice.
I'm currently working on a longer piece about crime in pharmacy and looking at data right across the UK, so look out for it in the next few weeks.
If anyone has tips they would like to share to prevent crime or advice on how to get the best support if it does happen, please get in touch.
[email protected]
020 7 921 8194

Julia Gregory


Part of shop ownership in the uk...

Remind me plz anyone.......

If i apprehend someone, will I be charged with assult, criminal record?...and then investiagted by the GPHC?
After a year of apprehension, probabaly not taken further by GPHC...

I wouldn't intervene...odds stacked against the locum!!!
Too much to loose

Farmer Cyst, Community pharmacist

I think most of us knew when we signed up to be Pharmacists that one day we'd be held hostage. It just goes with the territory.

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