- Additional reporting by Cormac O'Keeffe
More than 300 student gardai are to be fast-tracked through their training and take to the streets to “maximise” Garda resources as the State ramps up its response to Covid-19.
More than 320 Garda students are being called up to the force help deal with the coronavirus outbreak.
Garda holidays are being restricted and 210 additional vehicles are being hired to help the organisation provide policing services, while any officers due to retire in April will be offered the chance to stay on for another three months.
Gardaí said they are also going to be restricting large gatherings
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the “prudent” measures were being taken in response to the Government’s announcement on Thursday regarding closures and restrictions in relation to public gatherings.
Commissioner Harris said, despite scenes of panic buying yesterday, they do not think that will turn to looting.
He said: "People need to remain calm about the food supply and therefore then the fear of looting should not arise. We've had no looting incidents yet, no sign of looting incidents.
"People have been calm and well-mannered in terms of their shopping. We are there but that is primarily to provide reassurance and to help with traffic flow, not that we have a fear of an outbreak of disorder or indeed looting. We haven't seen that."
Speaking at Garda HQ, he said:
*Garda patrols in communities and on the street will increase generally - and not focused on supermarkets, as reported - in order to reassure people;
*Patrolling at supermarkets is to deal with “traffic flow” issues caused by the large numbers of shoppers;
*He has no other “particular concerns” with supermarkets, such as looting, but said people need to “remain calm” and that there is “no issue” with food supplies;
*Arrests will continue where necessary, but where other options – such as fines or cautions – are appropriate, they will be used;
*There are no restrictions “at this moment in time” to detective work and operations targeting serious crime and organised criminal gangs;
*It is not anticipated or considered that arrests will be carried out if people engage in mass gatherings. He said they are looking to people to behave responsibly
The Commissioner said: “As a force, An Garda Síochána is taking prudent measures to maximise our operational delivery and also providing reassurance to society, make sure we’re here to keep people safe, prevent crime but also to support other agencies in the weeks ahead.”
He said they are taking prudent measures in relation to annual leave, rosters and what they regard as non-essential tasks over these coming weeks and months
Earlier this week, Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security established the Garda National Co-ordination Unit. Headed by a Chief Superintendent, its role is to ensure a co-ordinated approach when dealing with organisational issues with the COVID-19 virus