In a programme broadcast on 19 November 2018, BBC Inside Out London highlighted the actions taken by the GPhC in response to a BBC investigation in 2012. This investigation identified a number of pharmacy professionals located on the Edgware Road in London who illegally sold prescription-only medicines to undercover BBC researchers.
The programme referenced the Fitness to Practise cases that the GPhC took forward using the evidence from the programme, which led to the pharmacy professionals involved being removed or suspended from the register.
The programme also highlighted that the GPhC now has powers to use directed surveillance (for example monitoring movements or actions) in its investigations, where appropriate, following a recent update in July 2018 to Parts 1 and 2 of the Schedule to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Directed Surveillance and Covert Human Intelligence Sources) Order 2010. The Schedule prescribes the offices in public authorities able to authorise surveillance activity and those within public authorities who are responsible for authorisations and now includes the GPhC. These organisations including the GPhC are overseen by the independent Investigatory Powers Commissioners Office (ICPO). The GPhC does not have powers to use covert human intelligence sources (for example using an informant/ someone acting undercover).
Duncan Rudkin, Chief Executive of the GPhC, said:
“BBC Inside Out has highlighted the robust action we took in response to their 2012 investigation, including removing or suspending pharmacy professionals involved from our register. The programme also highlighted that we have recently been given powers to carry out directed surveillance. We expect to only use these powers in limited cases, where appropriate, but think they are a necessary addition to help support us in our role to protect the public."