Coronavirus: Gardaí in 200 rented cars set for community outreach
Posted on 16th March 2020 at 21:11
Contingency vehicles to be used to assist vulnerable and isolated people during crisis
An Garda Síochána has pledged to use more than 200 vehicles it is renting to assist vulnerable and isolated members of the public with vital tasks, such as collecting prescription drugs or bringing them to medical appointments.
Garda Headquarters in Phoenix Park, Dublin, has urged anyone who is concerned for themselves, loved ones or friends to contact their local station and ensure gardaí there are aware of those people who need help.
“These contingency vehicles will be used to maintain personal interactions and, where needed, to assist and support people, which may include collecting medical prescriptions, attending hospital appointments and other supports they may need,” it said in a statement.
Garda Headquarters emphasised the vehicles being hired would not be used to respond to crime and other emergency call-outs. Instead the vehicles and gardaí manning them would solely be used for the community outreach project now being mobilised to help people during the Covid-19 crisis.
The Garda added that, once its personnel had established contact with people who required help and began extending that assistance to them, gardaí would also try to connect them to State services they could benefit from on an ongoing basis.
We need more than ever to support the most vulnerable in our society, particularly our elderly and isolated
Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said the plans to hire the cars, signalled by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris late last week, formed a key component of the force’s efforts to provide increased community support and community engagement across the country.
“As a community at this time we need more than ever to support the most vulnerable in our society, particularly our elderly and isolated,” he said of the current national emergency.
“An Garda Síochána has always worked closely with our communities and we continue to do so in these extraordinary times.”
Gardaí across the country were being asked to actively identify those persons most in need, particularly those with limited local family or social support. And while families, neighbours and community groups could engage with vulnerable or isolated people while still practicing social distancing, they could also inform their local Garda of people they knew of who needed assistance.
National Co-ordination Unit
An Garda Síochána has established a Covid-19 National Co-ordination Unit operating from Garda Headquarters under Mr Twomey, who is in charge of policing and security in the force.
The new unit is co-ordinating and managing the strategic Garda response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Mr Twomey will chair daily meetings with senior Garda personnel across the country to ensure the force responds quickly to the changing demands on its services as the crisis changes.
Garda leave has been limited to 5 per cent of personnel in each Garda division across the Republic, and members began working new 12-hour shifts on Monday morning. Senior sources said this was intended to have as many gardaí on the frontline to provide a reassuring policing presence to the public at a difficult time.
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