The Policing Authority has identified what it calls "a new tone" in the Garda's approach to policing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The authority says the Garda focus has been on "community engagement and service" which goes "well beyond the usual domain of policing" and has been both "important and deeply appreciated".

It says communities are now perceiving "a new level of respect and acceptance" and see the Garda's approach as "a conscious change" to which they "respond with generosity".

The findings are outlined in the fourth Policing Authority report to the Minister for Justice on the Garda's policing performance during the coronavirus crisis, which also says the quality and character of the Garda presence is as important as "the increased visibility".

The report also says that organisations representing minority and vulnerable communities equally report positive experiences from around the country with regard to the approach, efforts and responsiveness of the Garda Síochána.

It quotes one member of the travelling community as saying "it is like nothing we've experienced before, it is as if they have been instructed to treat us as members of the community'."

The report also says that while groups and organisations have expressed concerns that police resources will contract post the Covid-19 period, the retention of the current "tone of policing" is not seen as being resource dependent and there is therefore "cautious optimism" that it can be preserved.

The Policing Authority also says it has also been assured that significant planning is ongoing with organisers and local authorities in relation to policing pickets and protests to ensure a consistent and fair approach and that it is keeping the matter under review.

Joint policing committees have pointed out that beauty spots and beaches are a shared cause of concern for people congregating in large numbers because of lack of social distancing and anti-social behaviour.

The report also highlights the authority's ongoing concern in relation to the Garda's use of emergency powers and the Garda's recording of the use of these powers.

It says the use of anti-spit hoods remains a key concern.

The report points to a sample of 27 cases, where it was reported that 21 involved people who demonstrated obvious signs of intoxication, with a much smaller number demonstrating obvious signs of mental health issues.

The report also says that in 14 of the 64 incidents, additional force such as incapacitant spray, a baton or both were used in conjunction with the anti-spit hoods but that the additional use of force is not routinely reported.

The authority says it will continue to examine and "keenly" monitor the use of anti-spit hoods until their "anticipated withdrawal" when this public health emergency comes to an end.

The Policing Authority is also worried that policing may become more difficult as restrictions are eased.

More businesses will open and people can travel further it says and there may be an expectation among the public that the gardaí will be able to ensure the guidance is observed even though they may have no legal powers to do so.