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HomeNewsCounty Square Shopping Centre Issues Stab-Proof Vests To Cleaners

County Square Shopping Centre Issues Stab-Proof Vests To Cleaners

Cleaners at an Ashford shopping centre have been issued with stab-proof vests after an “unprecedented” rise in attacks on retail staff.

Following a “well-received” trial of the stab-proof vests on County Square security guards last year, “the entire front-of-house team” has now been equipped with the protective body armour.

A County Square spokeswoman told Kent Online: “PPE of this nature is becoming standard issue in the shopping centre industry.”

“We are a responsible employer and continue to observe and make changes to our daily operations to ensure our teams are safe and feel safe in their duties,” she added.

The move comes after a 50% rise in violent incidents against staff across the UK last year, according to figures from the British Retail Consortium.

Many shoppers have welcomed the increased protection for staff, admitting it was “a sign of the times”.

Tracey Smith, who regularly visits Ashford from Essex, told Kent Online: “It doesn’t matter if it is Ashford or Chelmsford or anywhere, things are going to happen, sadly.”

“I think we will start seeing people wear them in other places because, if nothing more, it could be a deterrent.”

Another shopper, Marion Trumper, 68, added: “With the way things are going these days, it is safer to wear them.”

In 2020, an incident broke out in the shopping centre where a masked gang rampaged through the centre brandishing knives and a machete.

Armed police were called, and six people were arrested, with three knives confiscated.

Additionally, last year, County Square began closing earlier in an attempt to protect staff after some were “physically assaulted”.

Oli Nonis, owner of Akon Security, based in Canterbury, says there has been an unprecedented rise in assaults on retail workers over recent years.

Mr Nonis said: “Everyone should feel safe at work, and if they feel there is a need for them, then that is great.”

“Nationally, there is a massive increase in assaults on retail workers and hospital staff, and it is totally unacceptable.”

Furthermore, Mr Nonis explained that a British standard-approved vest could cost between £300 to £600.

He added: “There are lots of different types of vests, but for an approved one that you can trust, the costs are high.”

“But you can’t put a price on staff safety.”

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