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Crime in Pharmacies

A C+D investigation has exclusively revealed the extent and severity of crime that pharmacists and their staff are facing across the UK. The map below plots the UK's 45 police authorities. The grey areas represent the 10 police authorities that did not provide crime data to C+D. Click on a region to see the extent of crime in pharmacies in your area in 2016.

Read C+D's in-depth analysis of the pharmacy crime data.

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The investigation explained...

How did C+D get hold of this data?
In February 2017, C+D sent out 45 requests for data under the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act to all police authorities in the UK – 43 in England and Wales, as well as Police Scotland and Police Service Northern Ireland. All the police forces responded within the statutory time limit of 20 working days, with 35 of the authorities granting C+D the data (see map for more details).

What information did C+D request?
C+D asked each police authority a series of five questions: the total number of crimes committed in pharmacies in 2016; how many of these were incidents of shoplifting; how many were burglaries or robberies; and how many were violent crimes – including arson. The final question asked for details of the crimes – including the date, time, any weapons used, injuries and products or items targeted, and whether there had been any suspects arrested or cautioned in relation to the crime.

Why is the figure for overall crime in each area higher than the combined figures for shoplifting, burglary, robbery and violent crime?
As well as asking for the overall figure for crime in each area, C+D specifically requested details on three categories of crime (see above). Other categories – such as criminal damage, prescription forgery or fraud, possession of either a weapon or controlled drugs, and public order offences – also potentially contributed to the total number of crimes in any given area.

Aside from shoplifting, “other thefts” were reported by several police authorities. For example, as well as 276 cases of shoplifting reported in Warwickshire, there was one case of “stealing from a person” and four incidents of “stealing pedal cycles”. However, these non-shoplifting crimes do not fit under the three categories C+D has highlighted on its map.

How representative are the figures for each region?
Police forces used the location code of crime to decide whether it was relevant to C+D’s request. Depending on the force, these codes ranged from “pharmacy” and “chemist” to “toiletries shop”. In some authorities – for example, Lancashire – the location field is not mandatory when recording crime. Cambridgeshire relied on the term “pharmacy” or “chemist” being in the building’s name, for example: ‘Boots the Chemist’.

This means that potentially even more crimes may have been committed in pharmacies than were reported in some areas.

Can the data be compared between different police forces?
In their responses, police authorities stressed that their data should not be directly compared with information provided by other forces, as “the systems used for recording these figures are not generic, nor are the procedures used locally in capturing the data”.

How were "violent crimes" classified?
C+D identified these incidents as those that were classified by police forces as “violence” or “assault” – with or without injury. For the purposes of this investigation, C+D did not include “sexual offences” as violent crime, unless the police force specified that the incident involved assault.

Most cases of arson were recorded under their own category of ‘arson’, with the exception of Greater Manchester Police, which recorded 12 cases of “criminal damage and arson offences”, and did not specify which – if any – of the incidents involved arson specifically.

Read C+D’s analysis of the pharmacy crime data.

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Have you experienced a crime in your pharmacy?

If you have experienced crime, share your story by emailing
[email protected], with the heading ‘Crime in pharmacies’.

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