Home News Crime Gardai report 100 incidents of spitting or coughing at their members since...

Gardai report 100 incidents of spitting or coughing at their members since April

Gardai have reported that their officers have been spat at or coughed on by members of the public on 100 separate occasions since April 8.

Commissioner Drew Harris also revealed that they had to use anti-spit guards 75 times.

He said: “Gardaí continue to be subject of disgusting spitting and coughing attacks.

“This remains 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.”

Aside from that, Gardai are reporting that there has been a high level of co-operation by public with them during the COVID-19 crisis.

From 8 April, which was when the regulations came into effect, until 13 June 2020 inclusive, Gardaí have invoked the regulations 307 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.

Of the 307 incidents, two were as a result of an instruction from a relevant medical professional as per the Act.

As per Garda policy in relation to the regulations, in all cases where arrests were made under the regulations, members of An Garda Síochána must consult with the Director of Public Prosecutions on the decision to charge.

To date, in 86 of these incidents a charge or summons has issued. Most incidents involve a single individual but some have resulted in charges against multiple people. To date, in 14 of the 307 incidents the DPP directed no charge. The remainder continue to be under criminal investigation.

In addition, pre-existing enforcement powers were used in 2,086 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 very good compliance with the public health guidelines. However, we are only in week one of Phase 2. We all need to continue to play our part in reducing the spreading of COVID-19 by staying local, not making unnecessary journeys, and maintaining social distancing.

“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.”

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