Seventy incidents of spitting or coughing at gardai have occurred in a five week period during the pandemic.
Gardai invoked new temporary Covid-19 regulations 241 times between April 8th and May 16th.
They say the vast majority were adhering to the public health guidelines, however in a small minority of cases some people were still not willing to comply .
These include both arrests, and incidents without arrest where names and addresses were taken for consultation with the DPP.
Gardai used anti-spit guards 57 times between April 8th and May 16th, as there were 70 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against members of An Garda Síochána.
In addition, pre-existing enforcement powers were used in 1,621 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.
Commissioner Drew Harris said, “There has been a high level of compliance with the public health guidelines to date. I want to thank the public for that. But, from this week, the country is entering another critical phase. It is vital that we all continue to play our part in reducing the spreading of COVID-19 by adhering to the updated public health guidelines.
“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 new phase.“
Anti-spit guards provide an additional tactical option to be considered by a Garda, as a last resort in a continuum of graduated response, in circumstances where ‘there is clear evidence of spitting now or where a member believes there is a clear and tangible threat of spitting posed by the subject’.
Commissioner Harris said, “Regrettably, these reprehensible spitting and coughing attacks on our personnel continue. These are a significant health and safety risk to our members in the current environment. We must protect them from such attacks.”
The Garda policy and use of anti-spit guards will be reviewed by An Garda Síochána in September 2020.
From 12 March 2020 to 16 May 2020, the Garda National Vetting Bureau (GNVB) has processed 24,335 vetting applications for COVID-related roles. This includes applications across medical and healthcare roles, and voluntary groups. GNVB is fully up-to-date with all vetting applications with a current turnaround time for vetting applications of one day.
- Gardaí have invoked regulations 241 times out of the hundreds of thousands of interactions
- Pre-existing enforcement powers used in 1,621 incidents
- 70 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against members of An Garda Síochána.
- Over 24,000 COVID-relating vetting applications processed – turnaround time one day – no vetting backlog