Published on 24th April 2020

Police and crime commissioner David Keane is urging Cheshire residents to be patient when visiting pharmacies following a rise in incidents of violence and threatening behaviour towards pharmacists across the UK.

Pharmacies across the country have seen a huge surge in demand due to the Coronavirus outbreak. This has resulted in stock shortages, placing an unprecedented pressure on services.

PCC David Keane is backing a national call from the Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) for a zero tolerance policy to reduce abusive incidents at community pharmacies.

The PDA has called for the support of all Police and Crime Commissioners and their police forces to help calm the behaviour experienced in some pharmacies during this crisis period.

PCC David Keane said: “I understand that this is an anxious and worrying time for everyone but people should not be taking out their distress on individuals who are putting themselves and their families in danger by trying to help us.

“Community pharmacists are key workers on our frontline providing NHS services to the public to ensure they have access to vital medicines. They should be treated with respect. I am urging members of the public to be patient with them as they work hard to keep us safe.”

PDA director, Paul Day, added: “Any degree of abuse is unacceptable but it becomes even more worrying that we are aware of several very recent incidents that have involved physical attacks after which the police have been involved. We made sure that the Assaults on Emergency Workers (Offences) Act 2018 carries greater penalties for attacking pharmacists, but our focus is on preventing attacks in the first place.

“Being able to abuse pharmacy staff without consequences creates no deterrent for potential aggressors. This cannot be allowed to continue and employers need to play their part. Introducing a genuine zero tolerance approach would be welcomed by employees and locums who all have a right to go to work without fear of abuse or attack.”