Gardaí have been victims of 70 spitting and coughing attacks since April

An Garda Síochána have stressed that a high level of compliance with public health guidelines is vital during Phase 1.

Over the past few months, Gardaí have interacted with hundreds of thousands of people while on patrol or at checkpoints. The vast majority were adhering to the public health guidelines.

However, despite receiving a number of warnings, some individuals are still not willing to take steps to comply with the public health guidelines. It is understood that Gardaí have used Covid-19 powers 241 times since they were introduced last month. 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.

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

Some of these incidents are already before the Courts.

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."

Since the beginning of April, there were 70 incidents of spitting and/or coughing against members of An Garda Síochána. Members of An Garda Síochána had to use anti-spit guards 57 times over the past few weeks.  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 added, "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.

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