Worried Parents Buying Stab-Proof Vests For Their Children
Worried parents are buying their children body armour to protect them from knife attacks. A firm that supplies stab and bullet-proof vests to government agencies around the world said it had been flooded with orders following a series of brutal knife murders on Britain’s streets.
VestGuard UK said it had received more than 100 calls from parents in London alone. It normally receives only one or two inquiries nationwide each year.
Some 60 jackets, costing between £300 and £425, have been sold – with parents saving up to buy the armour.
Shaun Ward, the sales director at VestGuard UK, said: “They are concerned by what is happening on the streets – the level of violence. A 13-year-old girl has been our youngest customer but most are about 15 or 16.
“We have a factory in Bolton and since Christmas we have been making really small vests that have a 28″ chest and weigh 800 grams. The children have been mostly boys, but there are a few girls.”
David Davis, the Shadow Home Secretary, said: “The fact parents are having to resort to spending large amounts of money on such drastic measures betrays the Government’s failure to get a grip on violent crime.
“This is a consequence of having very little police presence on our streets and in our communities to detect and deter violent crime. While our police are tied up in red tape innocent children are having to wear police equipment to protect themselves.”
It came as police demanded new laws to tackle knife crime in the wake of the fatal stabbings of Adam Regis and Kodjo Yenga in the capital. The Police Federation, which represents 140,000 frontline officers, said current legislation is ‘unclear’ and ‘arbitrary’.
In evidence to MPs, police said the standard of proof should be changed so that prosecutors no longer have to establish a person caught with a knife intended to us it illegally.
Instead, the onus would switch to the person proving they had an innocent explanation for having the blade.
The federation also said the current law, which only makes weapons with a blade of more than three inches illegal without a lawful reason, needs updating. New weapons, such as lock knives and ‘butterflies’ should be included.
In his own evidence to Westminster’s home affairs committee, Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker ruled out a mandatory jail sentence for thugs who carry knives in public.
Campaigners argue this is the only effective deterrent, but Mr Coaker said: “I think we need to keep a distinction between guns and knives.
“We are trying to have a law that is proportionate and workable. We have just increased the maximum sentence for carrying knives from two years to four years. We need to see what impact that has.”
Mr Coaker blamed poor parenting for youths carrying knives. He said: “It can be a contributory factor and it is something we need to look at.”
But he added that even ‘very good parents’ and those children growing up within a ‘model two-parent family’ could still be sucked into the world of knife crime.