Gardaí use Covid-19 regulations 313 times

Gardaí use Covid-19 regulations 313 times
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Gardaí say they have only used the Covid-19 regulations 313 times in a million encounters with the public and just once in the past week.

People face a criminal charge or a court summons in 94 of those cases, with no charge directed for 25 of them.

Officers have now masked detainees with a spit hood 78 times.

Gardaí also revealed that there were 112 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against members of the force.

Gardaí said that from April 8 to June 20, they invoked the Temporary Restrictions (Covid-19) Regulations 2020 313 times out of more than a million interactions with the public.  

“These include both arrests and incidents without arrest where name and address details were taken for consultation with the DPP on the decision to issue charges. Arrest remains a last resort,” the statement said.

“Of the 313 incidents, two were as a result of an instruction from a relevant medical professional as per the Act.” 

Gardaí added: “In addition, pre-existing enforcement powers were used in 2,127 incidents where other offences were disclosed in the course of Covid-19 operations.

“These range from incidents such as drink driving or disqualified drivers detected at checkpoints, to drugs and weapons seizures, to public order offences.

“The number of incidents involving other suspected crimes continues to far exceed the number of cases involving only breaches of Government restrictions.” 

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said, "We are still in Phase 2 so it is important that the very good compliance with the public health guidelines that we have seen so far continues.

“We all still need to stay local, not make unnecessary journeys, and maintain social distancing to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

"At the outset of the Covid-19 situation, I said that An Garda Síochána will continue to operate as a community-based policing service with a focus on protecting the vulnerable. This approach will not change during this phase.” 

Commissioner Harris said that the “despicable” coughing and spitting attacks on gardaí remain “a serious concern” for the organisation.

“These are a significant health and safety risk to our members in the current environment. We must protect them from such attacks.

“This includes having the option of using anti-spit guards in very limited circumstances.

“We have made it clear these anti-spit guards are only to be used as last resort and in line with the Garda Decision Making Model, which includes at its centre human rights and our Code of Ethics.” 

The statement added that from March 12 to June 20, the Garda National Vetting Bureau (GNVB) has processed 34,392 vetting applications for Covid-related roles.

This includes applications across medical and healthcare roles, and voluntary groups.

“GNVB has been fully up-to-date throughout 2020 with all vetting applications with a current turnaround time for vetting applications of one day,” the statement added.

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