Garda checkpoint in Portlaoise during the first lockdown
Level 5 Covid-19 restrictions Gardaí have announced they will be mounting extra checkpoints, running high visibility community patrols continue support for the most vulnerable.
As the lockdown came into force Garda HQ said the measures are being introduced to ensure compliance with public health guidelines and regulations following the Government’s decision that the country should move to Level 5 under the Framework for Living with COVID-19.
As part of this plan, training in the Garda College will be suspended for the next nine weeks except for specialist training activity - firearm and armed support.
HQ says this will release the following personnel to front-line policing:
- 125 attested Garda trainees currently undertaking phase one training in the Garda College
- 75 Garda trainees not attested undertaking phase one training
- 60 Gardaí working as tutors/instructors in the Garda College (out of a cohort of 80 Gardaí). This in addition to the 45 Gardaí who temporarily transferred from the Garda College to the front-line at the start of the pandemic and who have remained on front-line duty.
These deployments will take effect from November 2, 2020.
In addition, Gardaí in administrative roles will, where possible, be re-deployed to operational duties.
The 12-hour contingency roster will also be extended until March 31.
Overall, at any one time, there will be over 2,500 Gardaí on duty, with the primary focus being on checkpoints and high visibility patrolling in support of Level 5 compliance.
The presence on the roads will be evident from Thursday, under Operation Fanacht, there will be an extensive network of checkpoints around the country. The 132 static checkpoints on motorways introduced earlier this month will remain and will be supplemented by hundreds of rolling checkpoints on main and secondary roads.
Gardaí say Transport Infrastructure Ireland data shows that the volume of private cars on major routes nationally has decreased by 14.5% following the introduction of Operation Fanacht when compared with traffic levels during the week before the Operation commencing.
There will also be high visibility community engagement patrols by Gardaí in parks, natural beauty spots, and public amenities.
As has been done since the start of the pandemic, Gardaí will continue to engage with the most vulnerable in society to provide them with the necessary supports.
While the vast majority of Gardaí will be focused on engaging with the public, national units in areas such as crime detection, armed support, national security, and organised crime, as well as divisional drug units, will continue to prevent and detect crime.
In particular, HQ says the Garda National Protective Services Bureau and the Divisional Protective Service Units will continue to support victims of domestic abuse under Operation Faoiseamh.
Introduced on April 1, 2020, Gardaí say Operation Faoiseamh has seen an enhanced level of support, protection and reassurance to victims of domestic abuse during the Covid-19 pandemic. Under Faoiseamh, HQ says thousands of contacts have been made with victims of domestic abuse, as well as arrests and over 100 prosecutions commenced.
In delivering this operation, Gardaí will continue to use the 4Es approach of engage, educate and encourage, and only where provided for and as a last resort, enforcement.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris spoke about the Level 5 policing operation.
"There was very good compliance by the public with the travel restrictions when they were in place before. It is vital that we see that high level of compliance again this time. The public health advice is clear. This will help save lives.
"In particular, we would ask people to think about their journeys and not exercise or travel outside the 5km limit unless it meets the essential criteria.
"An Garda Síochána is continuing with our graduated response based on our tradition of policing by consent.
"This is a difficult time for everybody, but if we all work together we can reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect our families, friends and neighbours,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner, Policing and Security, John Twomey said Gardaí will be there to help.
"Throughout the pandemic, Gardaí nationwide have been helping the vulnerable and those who feel isolated. Gardaí have collected prescriptions, delivered pensions, and had socially distanced contacts. If people need such assistance or know someone who does, please contact your local Garda station. We are here to help,” he said.
Read also: FULL LIST OF COVID-19 RESTRICTIONS