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Major Garda Mobilisation in 2020 to Protect the Vulnerable and Ensure Compliance with Covid-19 Public Health Measures - Garda Annual Report 2020

Issue Date: 18th October 2021

Last year saw the number of Gardaí reach its highest level in the history of the State, the major mobilisation of the organisation to support people during the Covid-19 pandemic, over €36m of drugs seized, and more than 22,000 contacts made with victims of domestic abuse, according to the 2020 Garda Annual Report published today.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said: "2020 was an unprecedented year for the country that required an exceptional response from An Garda Síochána to help keep people safe during a global pandemic. This saw An Garda Síochána and its personnel to react swiftly to provide reassurance to the public that we were there to help them through incredibly difficult and challenging times.”

This response included prioritisation of the following:

  • The mobilisation of as many Gardaí as possible to the frontline with 388 Gardaí redeployed to the front-line and 522 trainee and probationer Gardaí attested early • In line with our tradition of policing by consent, we introduced the 4Es graduated policing response, with enforcement as a last resort • Protection of the human rights of everyone we came into contact with • Support for, and protection of, the vulnerable, particularly those who were cocooning and victims of domestic abuse. There were more than 7,600 criminal charges created in 2020 for crimes involving an element of domestic abuse. • Keeping our own people safe through provision of almost 40 million items of protective equipment (PPE) • An ongoing concentration on enforcement activity against organised crime groups to make sure that they did not take full advantage of the pandemic

The Policing Plan was revised in Q2 of 2020 to take account of the impact of the pandemic with the introduction of a number of policing operations such as Operation Faoiseamh (domestic violence), Fanacht (#StayHomeStaySafe) and Navigation (pubs and restaurant compliance), and the establishment of a 24/7 Covid-19 Coordination Unit.

Commissioner Harris added, "Despite the significant pressures from Covid-19, our core function of keeping people safe by preventing and detecting crime also had to be maintained in 2020. While crime rates did fall across most areas, criminals still sought to exploit the pandemic.

"In particular, significant amounts of drugs, cash and guns were seized, and major figures in organised crime gangs were brought before the courts. This work saved lives and degraded the capacity of such crime gangs. Low level street dealing was also targeted by Divisional Drug Units to support communities blighted by this

"Of course, none of what was achieved during the year by the organisation would have been possible without the great work by Garda personnel who had to react rapidly to very challenging and difficult professional and personal situations.”

Key highlights of 2020 include:

  • Over €36m worth of drugs and almost €8m cash seized by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau • Divisional Protective Service Units established in every Division • 76,679 Covid-19 related vetting applications processed • The facilitation of remote working for 2,500 Garda personnel • 210 community support vehicles hired • 22,795 contacts and attempted contacts with victims of domestic abuse

Progress was also made on a number of initiatives under A Policing Service For Our Future such as 2,500 Gardaí being equipped with a mobility device by year-end, the setting-up of the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit, and ongoing implementation of the Operating Model.

Ensuring human rights are at the core of policing remained a high priority for An Garda Síochána as evidenced in a number of initiatives progressed throughout 2020. These included:

  • Development of a human rights course for Garda personnel with the University of Limerick (launched in January 2021) • Launch of the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Strategy Statement and Action Plan 2020 – 2021 • Key elements of the Diversity and Integration Strategy 2019-2021 were actioned such as the establishment of the Garda National Diversity Forum, the upskilling of the Ethnic Liaison Officers network to become Garda Diversity Officers, and the introduction of a training programme for Gardaí to engage positively with people from diverse backgrounds

Further highlights for 2020 included:

National Policing

  • 75 assassinations thwarted since 2016 • 23 firearms and 2,131 rounds of ammunition seized • 5,340 Garda Mounted Unit deployments • 1,360 Garda Air Support Unit flights • 2,861 number of individuals refused leave to land

National Security & Intelligence

  • 177 planned searches by Armed Support Unit (ASU) in support of frontline policing • 80 firearms operations, including 36 high risk searches • Over 160 refugees were security screened by Special Detective Unit (SDU) personnel under the Government’s Irish Refugee Resettlement Programme (IRRP) • 93 hostage / barricade / suicide type incidents dealt with by Garda negotiators in 2020

Community Safety

  • 150 laser speed detection devices acquired • Age card turned 21 with over 900,00 issued since 1999 • Establishment of the Garda National Diversity Forum • Over 300 venues across the country for National Community Engagement Day.

Cross-Organisation Services

  • 14,491 Gardaí / 3,112.6 Garda Staff (whole time equivalent)/ 407 Reserves by year-end • Largest fleet in the history of the organisation of 3,112 vehicles • Over 300 promotions to Sergeant and Inspectors • Over 1.5m social media followers • Garda Information Services Centre (GISC) created 668,260 incidents on the PULSE system on behalf of Gardaí.

The 2020 Garda Annual Report is available to view in the Publications section on the Garda website here

An infographic with key statistics from the 2020 Annual Report is published on Garda social media and is available from the Garda Press Office.