In March of last year, the OCP Board unanimously approved the mandatory use of time-delayed safes and associated public signage in all community pharmacies. It was a decision reached with input from the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police which represents the province’s local police forces, and based on the experience of other jurisdictions with similar mandates: where such requirements were in place, pharmacy robberies declined.
Still, we continue to hear about pharmacy robberies. This news is distressing to everyone and traumatizing to those directly affected. I have personally met with pharmacy teams that have been robbed and know how distressing it is for all involved. I worry for us all.
Some people on social media are circulating the notion that time delayed safes increase risk. There is no evidence to support this, and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police continues to endorse our requirements. However, from the beginning, the police told us that this initiative can only work if everyone participates. That is why the Board made it mandatory.
So, what more needs to be done?
Every community pharmacy must install and use their time-delayed safe. And they must display a sign indicating its use in the pharmacy. My own observation, shared by College staff, is that lots of pharmacies, particularly independents, do not have signs posted. This may leave independent pharmacy practices particularly vulnerable to robberies. I scrutinize media reports of pharmacy robberies for photos of the pharmacy, and I commonly see the absence of signs there too.
It is not enough to have the safe. You have to use it properly and you have to make its use publicly known. When you don’t do this, it increases the risk to all of us who work or receive care in community pharmacies.
When all community pharmacies are taking the steps necessary to meet these requirements, it promotes safety for all community pharmacies across the province. Let’s work together and support each other to achieve this important safety goal.
OCP Board Chair