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News

Concealable Stab Vests For Prison Officers

PPSS : 07 June, 2012  (Technical Article)
Prison authority concerns over confrontational aspect of stab vests challenged with vests of new materials which are concealable
Concealable Stab Vests For Prison Officers
Prison officers in New Zealand are appalled with their Corrections Department for saying stab vests are unavailable after another prison officer was attacked at Rimutaka Prison last week.  

More than fifty prison officers have now contacted the Corrections Association in New Zealand, demanding stab vests or some sort of body armour, understanding that prisoners are volatile and unpredictable.

“I strongly believe we must understand better, and remind ourselves that we cannot change the aggressive behaviour of some prisoners” Robert Kaiser, CEO of UK based PPSS Group comments.

“There is simply no doubt that a prisoner consuming drugs, illegal substances or self made alcohol can become hostile and violent within a split second, regardless of the prison officers excellent communication skill and calm personality”.

“The ideas to create make shift weapons, e.g. sharpened table and bed frame legs, shanks made out of plastic, sharpened wood or pieces of mirror, and the idea of melting razor blades into tooth brushes and turning pens and pencils into weapon have not been developed out of 5 minutes of simple boredom.  These ideas have been developed following hours and hours of malicious thought processes, and even the very best prison officer can one day be on the receiving end of such thought process”.

A recent publication of the American Correctional Officer once claimed that 33.5% of all assaults in prisons and jails are committed by inmates against prison officers.

According to official statistics obtained by the Howard League for Penal Reform show that recorded assault incidents in prison in England and Wales have risen by 61 per cent between 2000 and 2009.

Based on this statistic prison officers at Hindley Young Offenders Institution, the largest child prison in Europe, are particularly affected with assaults on staff up by an astonishing 967 per cent.

We all remember too well the outrageous attack on prison officers at the Frankland High Security Prison in March 2010, almost costing the lives of two prison officers, and have to accept the fact this is not a country specific problem, but rather a serious occupational hazard across all countries.

Robert Kaiser states: “The fact is that prison officers deal with some of the most dangerous, violent and unpredictable people in our society on a daily basis, and this is why I suggest they have the simple right to demand appropriate protection and the undivided attention and support from those charged with ensuring their welfare and personal safety”.

It is a rather interesting fact that a police officer who deals with dangerous criminal individuals for only a very few minutes every day is by law required to wear protective equipment… but the prison officer charged with supervising the same individual, potentially for a number of years, is not being issued with any type of protective clothing at all.

Robert Kaiser has been part of numerous discussions and consultancy meetings with prison and correctional facilities in several countries and fully understands all concerns: ”In every single of these meetings the ‘non-confrontational design’ question has always been the centre point of these sometimes very passionate discussions”.

“However, I always seem to come back to the same point, explaining that design and manufacturing capabilities have evolved so much over the past years. Concealable, thin and lightweight blunt trauma stab vests, extremely well suited for prison officers, are now available”.

It is without question, that covert stab vests and similar type of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) will reduce the risk of workplace violence related injuries, and should this fact not be at least be worth starting an open minded discussion on the personal safety of prison officers?
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