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Coronavirus: Garda reports 80 incidents of members being spat or coughed at since movement restricted

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

PA

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris

Gardai have been spat or coughed at 80 times since Covid-19 travel restrictions were introduced on April 8 in the Republic.

New figures from April 8 to May 23 show gardai used anti-spit guards 60 times.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris condemned the attacks on members of the force.

"These disgraceful spitting and coughing attacks on gardai while simply carrying out their lawful duties 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."

Mr Harris, a former PSNI deputy chief constable, said anti-spit guards provide an additional tactical option and are typically used as a last resort.

He said the Garda policy around the use of anti-spit guards will be reviewed in September.

The latest figures also show regulations brought in as part of the lockdown have been enforced 263 times.

These include both arrests and incidents without arrest where name and address details were taken for consultation with the Director of Public Prosecution on the decision to issue charges.

Of the 263 incidents, two were as a result of an instruction from a relevant medical professional.

Sixty-six incidents led to a charge or summons being issued while the rest are still under investigation.

Belfast Telegraph