ALERT: Increased pharmacy crime and break-ins risk as illicit supply compromised

ALERT: Increased pharmacy crime and break-ins risk as illicit supply compromised

March 30, 2020

It’s a good time to review your premises security following changes in street drug trends and availability due to the coronavirus pandemic.

An NHS England Controlled Drugs Accountable Officer has recently shared the following message:

In recent days, the National Crime Agency (NCA) have reported that they have started to receive anecdotal reports of soaring wholesale Illicit drug prices and global supply and demand problems.

As a result, it may be that any legitimate businesses such as community pharmacies, hospitals or GP surgeries, where controlled drugs are legally kept, could also be at significant risk of being targeted for thefts due to these shortages.

We would therefore ask that you continue to remain vigilant regarding controlled drug stock levels. Please remember that this increased risk may also unfortunately be extended to potential diversion and thefts by employees, either for monetary gain or simply to supply to family members.

It is anticipated that the lower schedules of controlled drugs such as benzodiazepines will be targeted, however any controlled drugs could be considered at risk so please ensure that CD cabinets comply with the Safe Custody Regulations and that all available security is implemented.

There are reports that County Lines may be disrupted due to the shortages with subsequent concerns around a potentially increased threat of violence as a result.

Please feedback any information regarding concerns, street drug prices or trends to your local Police Controlled Drugs Liaison Officer via 101.

Thefts should ordinarily be reported as a crime via 101, BUT if there is any risk to yourself or others then in an EMERGENCY please continue to dial 999.

Actions to consider:

LPCs have previously consulted with PSNC regarding such matters; who have recommended that we alert contractors of the increased risk of brake-ins and suggest that they review their security arrangements to see if there is scope for making improvements. There has previously been a common link in the method of entry, which seems to focus on gaining access from the rear of the premises under the cover of darkness. Obviously with less people around during the day and night at present, then the risk of being seen is reduced.

If you would like further guidance on aspects of premises security, then we can recommend seeking professional advice from:

  • NPA (if members, as they may offer this sort of support)
  • Your premises insurers, who may also have a security checklist
  • A local security firm, who could carry out a risk assessment and make suggestions
  • Your head office (for multiple group pharmacies)

There is no best practice guidance for LPCs that PSNC are aware of, however the recommendations above would be a good starting point and a timely reminder to be alert to the increased risk of a break-in, especially during the COVID-19 restrictions period. This is a good time to review security arrangements; taking professional advice if need be.


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