Frequently Asked Questions

What Is A Spike? Do All Stab Vests Protect From Spike?

An attack from a spiked implement such as screwdriver, chisel, ice pick, “shiv” or similar improvised weapon could be more likely than a knife. Spikes are easier to obtain, and carry lesser legal consequences (if any) when found as a result of a police search. Where there’s a knife threat there’s almost certainly a spike threat, so Home Office certification from spikes (SP1, SP2 etc) in addition to knives (KR1, KR2 etc) is essential – many stab vests don’t have this.

What Is The Law Relating To Body Armour?

It’s not illegal to buy or sell “stab vests” that are not certified by the Home Office – the onus is on the employer to ensure the protection is adequate. Every organisation has a duty of care to protect their staff under the Health & Safety at Work Act, and this includes issuing body armour to staff that are at risk. In addition, if an incident occurs where employees are not adequately protected, an employer can face industrial tribunals and compensation, and the Corporate Manslaughter and Corporate Homicide Act allow for unlimited fines and publicity orders.

My Staff Are Concerned That Their Stab Vests Are “Too Heavy”, What Should I Say?

It’s best to look at the overall picture. Only Home Office certified armour ensures proper protection, and technology can’t yet produce Home Office certified body armour that’s as thin and lightweight as normal clothing. If you research the lightest weight Home Office certified armour (with syringe and blunt trauma protection, if required), as well as considering other comfort factors such as armour flexibility and heat and moisture management, you’ll be doing everything you can to ensure your staffs comfort – without jeopardising their safety.

What Standard Shall I Look For To Ensure My Staff Are Properly Protected?

The UK Home Office sets the standards for body armour protection in the UK. From a protection point of view, aside from the CE mark, the Home Office Scientific Development Branch (HOSDB) standards are the only thing to look for. Be wary of body armour “made to” Home Office standards – it must be tested and certified by the Home Office – ask for a certificate to be sure. Simply calling something “body armour” or a “stab vest” does not mean it provides any protection – this is why the Home Office standards are essential.

Does The Body Armour I Buy Need To Be CE Marked?

Body armour for civilian use falls under European Council Directive 89/686/EEC on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which states that any armour sold to civilian users must be CE approved. Only Police and Military wearers are exempt from this PPE legislation.

Do All Stab/Ballistic Vests Also Protect From Syringes?

No – it depends on the vest. Because of its very fine needle point, a syringe will penetrate the majority of conventional body armour; including many stab vests with Home Office KR1 (knife) and SP1 (spike) certification. There is no Home Office standard for syringe protection – to protect from this widespread and increasing threat, look for a vest with specific syringe protection, and if in doubt ask them to visit you to demonstrate.

What Is Blunt Trauma/Impact Based Assault?

An attack from a knife, spiked object or gun presents a more serious threat of death or serious injury, but blunt trauma (blows from blunt objects such as baseball bats, bricks, kicks) is a more frequent threat for many staff. As with all threats, as well as choosing a vest that protects from blunt trauma it’s important to choose a flexible and lightweight vest to allow your staff to manoeuvre easily away from threats.

Does Hard Armour Provide Better Protection Than Flexible Armour?

In the 1980s, all body armour was rigid or “hardened,” making it uncomfortable and difficult to move in. Thankfully, technology has moved on to the extent that flexible armour is now available that provides equal or greater protection from all threats, including blunt trauma. We recommend that you ask for a demonstration of the protection provided. In addition, test the armour for comfort – if your staff aren’t comfortable they may not be wearing their armour when it counts.

How Do I Get The Sizing Right?

Once you have decided you are going to place an order, we can send you out a sizing set (one of each size) for your staff to try on. We can also send you a free measuring guide with a free tape measure so if you are not sure what size is required, you can send the measurements to us and we will assess.