Drop off in 999 calls to gardái as people isolate

There are early reports from gardaí of a drop in 999 calls and a general reduction in policing demands as Covid-19 sees a mass closure of pubs, fewer cars on the road and people staying indoors.

Drop off in 999 calls to gardái as people isolate

There are early reports from gardaí of a drop in 999 calls and a general reduction in policing demands as Covid-19 sees a mass closure of pubs, fewer cars on the road and people staying indoors.

While official data has not been released, senior sources suggest that emergency garda calls appear to have “reduced considerably” in recent days.

Some gardaí on the ground also report things being “quiet” with less people about and more gardaí visible.

But officers stressed this does not mean serious criminal activity will die down, as seen with an attempted feud murder of a teenager in north Dublin last Saturday and a garda operation against a drug gang linked to the Kinahan cartel in west Dublin on Monday.

It comes as the first batch of student gardaí being sworn in early is expected to take place on Friday at Templemore Garda College.

The 200 students have completed 16-17 weeks training – half of the standard requirement – but are being called up to bolster garda visibility on the streets and in rural areas.

A further batch of 125 students – who have only done five-six weeks training – may be attested next week.

There have been claims from some sources that this ‘junior’ batch have not been trained in the proper use of ASPs – extendable batons – and that there is a lack of anti-stab vests for them.

But senior gardaí have rejected these claims and said they will be trained and equipped for any frontline duties. They also reiterated that the students will be accompanied by experienced tutor gardaí.

“There are reports that 999 calls are down, they appear to have reduced considerably, though the data is not available,” said one senior source.

“That’s in part because pubs and bars are closed and a lot of the standard stuff has dropped off."

One experienced garda on the frontline said it is “very quiet” on the streets, which he puts down to most people being at home and more gardaí on the beat.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris introduced a new contingency roster on Monday, replacing the old 10-hour shift over five units (with two units resting) with a new 12-hour shift over four units (with two resting).

Local divisional commanders can either split that fifth unit over the four units or, in more rural divisions, assign it to rural duties.

Garda HQ estimates that the measures will result in a “20% uplift” in garda resources available – with the direction being to ensure garda visibility, assisted by the hiring of 210 vehicles.

Commissioner Harris has earmarked the contingency roster to run for three months, when it will be reviewed.

It emerged today that dedicated staffing, comprising 100 gardaí, has been assigned to a full-time 24/7 public order unit for the Dublin region.

Garda HQ said the decision to have dedicated resources was primarily to limit any possible spread of Covid-19 between garda units.

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