Gardaí have used anti-spit hoods 118 times while policing during the coronavirus pandemic, according to report from the Policing Authority.

The hoods, the use of which has been criticised by both the Authority and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, have been used 100 times on males, 18 times on females and six times on children.

They have been deployed mainly in Dublin (on 51 occasions) and mostly during assaults and public order incidents - 54 times for public order offences and 34 times during an assault.

In 79 cases, the person appeared to be intoxicated, while in 16 cases the detainee was believed to have a mental health issue. In one case, the person was perceived to have "obvious signs of a learning disability".

Gardaí also say there have been 31 cough or spit attacks on members of the force in the last month bringing the total to 237 since 12 April, which the Policing Authority has condemned.

It also said that "the great majority of people" have reported "very positive experiences" of policing during the pandemic.

The Authority said that communities have expressed their appreciation for An Garda Síochána's response to their needs.

Read the report here

One community group spoke of the "sense of security and confidence" that gardaí have delivered from the "minutes on the doorstep" they are giving, especially to older people.

The Policing Authority also said that communities have told them they believe that the force's use of the 4 Es - to engage, encourage, educate and enforce - is being "fairly and consistently applied".

Students said they are not worried about the additional powers given to gardaí but are concerned that these will be imposed more stringently on them.

In relation to checkpoints, the report said that while they may continue to delay people, especially those on necessary journeys, motorists understand and accept the reason and rationale for their existence and appreciate the tone of engagement adapted by officers.

Chairman of the Authority Bob Collins said that the health emergency has been seen as "an opportunity" by criminals but gardaí have continued "with considerable success to detect and disrupt organised criminal gangs and those others who prey on the vulnerable".

He added: "From the outset of this public health crisis, An Garda Síochána has been called on to assume a role that touches on very many aspects of the lives of all who live in this State.

"It has taken an extraordinary effort to organise and deploy the level of resources that have been assigned to this work.

"All elements of this response make their own contribution to the overall outcome that is desired, but some will have longer lasting significance than others.

"In terms of safety and social impact, the echoes of the work on sexual crime, on domestic violence and on community engagement will resound for a very long time".