Time To Better Protect Our Corrections And Prison Officers

A few years back I had the pleasure to meet proud ex-infantry soldier turned prison officer (and now very close friend of mine and father of my beloved god-daughters) Craig Wylde for the first time, a short while following the horrific assault on him by full time criminal and triple murderer Kevan Thakrar. This well documented attack took place on 13th March 2010 at Frankland High Security Prison in Durham, UK, and left Craig fighting for his life.  Craig was left with a severed artery in his left arm after the incident, which has turned his life completely upside down.  I have spent enough time with him and his family to witness what an enormous impact this assault and subsequent injury had on this gorgeous young family’s day to day life.  It seems to be unbelievable, but an ‘arm injury’ of this type can cause such immense level of distress, constant intense pain and test the strength of a family right to its core.

Many colleagues of Craig have since been assaulted, hospitalised, severely injured or even killed doing an extremely demanding and equally dangerous job. Following these vicious attacks, what has happened and what needs to happen to reduce violence related injuries and deaths at work? What difference can operationally sensible PPE make to these men and women?

We must understand, and remind ourselves that we cannot change the aggressive behaviour of some prisoners. 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 or correctional officers excellent communication skill, calm personality and willingness to empathise with the prisoner.

At the end of the story an officer in such institution can be, and often is, the bearer of bad news. He might be required to inform the prisoner of any disciplinary, restriction of privileges, bad family news, cancellation of visits, or of the news that his/her cell will be searched, all of which can of course create all sorts of physical reactions.

We also need to remind ourselves that prisoners have got plenty of time on hand to develop tools and vicious weapon to carry out acts of aggression.  The ideas to create make shift weapons, e.g. sharpened table and bed frame legs, shanks made out of plastic, shanks made our of porcelain, sharpened wood or pieces of mirror, and the idea of melting razor blades into tooth brushes and turning pens, pencils and nails into ‘spike weapon’ (see below image) have not been developed out of five minutes of simple boredom.  These ideas have been developed following hours and sometimes days, weeks and months of malicious thought processes, and even the very best prison or correctional officer can one day be on the receiving end of such malicious thought process.

PPSS Body Armour - prison shanks weapons

Unfortunately it is a matter of fact that the personal safety and well-being of police officers is much more in the public eye, than the important service our prison officers provide and the dangers these professionals face every single day.  Somehow this is a little understandable (but wrong), as the public is certainly more keen to see police officers patrolling their neighbourhood and giving them a certain sense of security.  Prison officers on the other hand are much more ‘out of sight’ end hence they do get forgotten a lot.  I don’t know, but can you see the general public discussing the safety of prison officers, can you?  But, don’t prison officers deserve at least the same support, attention and respect like other frontline public services?

If one would ask 1,000 members of the public, who would they rather offer a salary increase, their local police officer or prison officer? I am most certain that in excess of 90% would select the police officer.  Why?  Because most people are selfish.  Those 90% wouldn’t believe the police officer deserve that increase, it is more that they would expect a better service and performance which would positively effect their lives. They would expect a safer home, faster response time when in distress, less anti-social behaviour and their properties and belongings being better guarded. Because they cannot see a direct ‘return on such investment’ prison officers needs and wellbeing is and will be overlooked too many times.

So let me come to the key message of my article, the issuing of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment).

PPE, such as body armour in general is not about eliminating the risk of workplace violence related injuries, but about effectively reducing the risk within an environment where a risk has been identified.

So let’s ask ourselves the question, is there a realistic risk of assaults on officers within corrections facilities and prisons, especially those classed as ‘high security’?  The answer is a ‘loud and clear’ YES!

I see the question about body armour within corrections facilities and prisons being very similar to us wearing a seat belt in our car.  We don’t use a seat belt today because we know for sure we have an accident today. Neither do we use a seat belt because we are scared, paranoid, or worried that we might have a crash today.  No, not at all, the reason why we wear a seat belt is that we do understand that we have a much higher chance of survival in case someone is drunk, plays on his mobile phone or is otherwise distracted and crashes into our car, despite our own exceptional and advanced driving skills we might be able to claim.

Another question worthwhile answering when exploring the potential need/use of concealable body armour within correction facilities and prisons is how much do we actually really care about those guys ‘behind the wall’? Using my above analogy, if my child would be sitting on the back seat of my car I will make sure it is wearing a seat belt.  If the woman I love very much is sitting right next to me in my car I will also make sure she is wearing a seat belt.  But then having said that, some decision makers ‘do not allow’ their colleagues to wear a ‘seat belt’ or in this case any type of PPE, ignoring their concerns, fears and anxieties. For me this is absolutely outrageous!

So, how much do we care about the personal safety of prison and correctional officers? Are we actually willing to make a real difference to their risks and threats? Only YOU can answer this question yourself. More and more officers are raising their voices, yet their voices are not being heard.

Let’s talk about facts and figures. I do love my facts and figures and spreadsheets.  I love gathering and analysing intelligence, drilling down right to the very core of it and establish how it can help me to progress and reduce further or upcoming risks. So, here are a very few recent ‘headlines’ from 2015/16 from just a small selection of countries, as well as some statistics and numbers to help us understand the true significance of this global problem:

  • Germany – 14tth October 2016 – Attacks on Prison Officers in Zwickau and Bautzen
  • USA – 11th October 2016 – San Quentin death row inmate slashes Corrections Officer in the shower
  • UK – 18th September 2016 – Senior female prison officer viciously assaulted in an unprovoked attack
  • USA – 13th September 2016 – N.J corrections officer attacked at Burlington County prison
  • New Zealand – 23rd August 2016 – Prison officer stood down after being assaulted
  • South Africa – 15th August 2015 – Five correctional officers stabbed in Johannesburg
  • UK – 27th July 2016 – Prison officers ‘scared to go into work’ at Salford jail as warden is beaten up
  • USA – 21st July 2016 – Rikers correction officer attacked by inmates after he returned from vacation
  • USA – 18th July 2016 – Correctional officer, inmate scalded in boiling water attack
  • Denmark – 13th July 2016 – More and more prison officers are being attacked
  • UK – 4th July 2016 – Prison officer left scarred for life after being SLASHED across the face at work
  • USA – 30th June 2016 – Jail inmate tried to strangle corrections officer with garrote made from towel
  • UK – 22nd May 2016 – Bristol Prison Officer hurt in attack by inmate armed with homemade weapon
  • UK – 8th May 2016 – Two prison officers ‘seriously injured’ in Wormwood Scrubs attack
  • Ireland – 12th February 2016 – Three prison officers hurt as Ireland’s ‘most dangerous inmate’ tries to attack jail governor
  • India – 26th September 2015 – Violent inmates attack jail officials at Chennai Puzhal prison
  • Canada – 30th June 2015 – Officer attacked by inmate at British Columbia maximum security prison
  • UK – 25th March 2015 – Prison drug gangs run riot as guards lose control because of staff cutbacks
  • Australia – 15th March 2015 – Victorian prisons most violent in Australia, data shows

According to an article released by the POA (UK Prison Officers Association) titled: “PRISON VIOLENCE – How Serious Dies It Have To Get”, on page 1 we are able to read the following:

“Prisoner-on-Staff assaults continue at a rate of over 8 per day every day of the year. It is unacceptable that within a modern society, serious physical violence in the workplace is deemed as an occupational hazard. It is equally unacceptable workers do not enjoy the full protection of the law offered to colleagues in the Police Force or indeed the general public”.

Well, I have also asked myself the following many times, is it not really questionable that police officers who deal with dangerous criminal individuals for only a very few minutes every day, usually during the arrest or approach of a dangerous member of the public (and often with a solid backup team) are by law required to wear body armour in most countries, but most corrections or prison officers charged with supervising the very same dangerous and brutal individuals, potentially for a number of years, are not being issued with any type of protective clothing at all? Do we really believe ‘that guy’ becomes a better human being when imprisonment?

Anyway, another fairly recent report suggest the total number of assaults in UK prisons where weapons are used are extremely high, and more detailed analysis on the types of weapons used shows that since the year 2000 there has been an 85% increase in the number of assaults where a knife or blade of some type as used.

Looking briefly at our friends in the U.S. and based on information released by the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health in December 2013 there are approximately half a million correctional officers in the U.S. responsible for supervising more than two million inmates, and in 2011 correctional officers experienced 254 work-related injuries per 10,000 due to assaults and violent acts. This is considerably higher than the rate of injuries from assault and violent acts for all workers in the U.S. (seven per 10,000).

The above report also states the following:

  • There were 113 correctional officer fatalities reported — the fatality rate was 2.7 per 100,000
  • On average  11 work-related fatalities were reported per year
  • Assaults and violent acts accounted for 80 percent of all fatalities
  • Among fatal assaults and violent acts, 62 percent were due to homicides

According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 7 probation and correctional officers have been fatally wounded since 2011.

Approximately 45 have been intentionally killed between 1999-2008, according to the Bureau of Labour Statistics.

According to the 2013 Correctional Officer Wellness and Safety Literature Review, correctional officers are involved in the highest amount of non-fatal violent encounters than any other occupation.

A study by the National Institute of Justice in 2007, discovered there are approximately 2,000 correctional staff member injuries annually due to violence against officers by inmates.

The BBC in the UK reported on 16th April 2014 that the number of serious attacks on prison officers by inmates increased by 45% in two years, figures released by Labour have revealed. In 2012, a total of 543 assaults on prison officers were referred to the police – up from 374 in 2010.

A 2015 study in the U.S. concluded that for every 10,000 full-time Corrections Officers, there were 254 workplace assaults and violent injuries reported in 2011 that’s 36 times the rate for all American workers. In 2013, 15 workplace fatalities of correctional workers were reported nationwide, in a workforce of nearly 470,000 people.

Australian news network ABC reported in 2015 that Victoria has the most violent prisons in Australia, with a prison officer assaulted every three days. The Department of Justice data also showed inmate fights were a daily occurrence!

On 27th February 2016 the UK based Mirror Newspaper claimed that prisoners have assaulted more than 1,000 prison officers in just two months. These include 95 of the highest category ‘serious’ assaults on staff, such as being slashed with homemade weapons. The two monthly totals is equivalent to more than 16 prison officers being attacked each day. The figures show that 905 officers were victims of the lesser ‘assault’ during this period. This represented a surge of 15 per cent.

The very same newspaper reported on 30th July 2016 overall there were 14,262 offences of violence ion prisons in 2015 – up by 10 per cent on the previous year. The report continued to highlight that assaults directed at struggling prison staff soared by 36 per cent to 5,500.

The digital/online platform of ‘Heute’ stated that 109 prison officer were attacked by inmates in the small and beautiful country Austria is.

What type of PPE could make a real difference?

For a number of professional reasons I have been part of many security related discussions with prison and correctional institutions in several countries around the world and please be assured I do 100% understand all operational risks and threats, as well as all concerns raised in reference to body armour.

In many of these meetings the ‘non-confrontational ‘, ‘non-aggressive’ or ‘non-threating’ design issue has always been the centre point of these sometimes very passionate discussion. Many governments want to ensure their officers don’t look like ‘Robocop’ and hence many manufacturers have worked hard on more ‘approachable’ designs.

However, the ultimate body armour doesn’t exist yet. The idea of a body armour which is cosy and comfortable, weighs only a few grams and is a couple of millimetres thin, but offers unlimited protection from blunt force trauma, edged weapon and hypodermic needles and slash attacks simply doesn’t exist and may well not be available for many many years to come.

So we need to decide what is the most realistic risk within our facility, department or specific operations, or indeed can we use a combination of different types of body armour to create the ultimate protection we desire?

Please allow me to explain the only two types of PPE or body protection I would suggest. First of all let me share my thoughts on concealable, thin and lightweight blunt trauma stab vests, and then I will highlight a more recent development,  high performance slash resistant clothing.

Stab Resistant Vests

Based on my in depth understanding of this subject we all need to understand that an assault resulting in blunt force trauma injuries is the most likely type of assault a prison officer will suffer. The second and third most likely assault will involve edged weapons or hypodermic needles.

ppss-blunt-trauma-injuryBlunt trauma, blunt injury, non-penetrating trauma or blunt force trauma all refers to a type of physical trauma caused to a body part, either by impact, injury or physical attack via a kick, punch or blow using a blunt object.  How often will prison officers throw objects at a prison officer as an act of violence during ‘normal disturbances’, never mind serious riots? Assaults which lead to blunt force trauma injuries are exactly the type of assaults our prison officer face around the world, and I strongly believe the prevention of such injuries deserves our full attention.

Here is the first ‘problem’. The correct type of stab resistant vests offering substantial levels of protection from blunt force trauma will not be soft, flexible and ‘cosy’. Such body armour would be made out of a body moulded rigid material, such as a high performance polycarbonate, the same material that is used for motorbike helmets and baby bottles. Such material would also offer exceptional levels of protection from all types of edged weapons and very importantly also from hypodermic needles.

PPSS Body Armour  |  COVERT Stab Resistant Vest Model

PPSS Body Armour | COVERT Stab Resistant Vest Model

The comfort level of such body armour is absolutely acceptable, but above all this type of body armour offer the precise protection from all three key threats corrections and prison officers are facing in today’s society.

The second main advantage of polycarbonate based body armour is that it is very light, thin and reasonably concealable.  However, another massive unique advantage is they also offer an unlimited lifespan, as no physical, chemical or biological evidence even suggests that they will degrade. Their performance and protection levels will always remain the same.  This is of great financial importance as all other e.g. Kevlar® based body armour should/need replacing after five years due to a reduction of performance.  I certainly would throw mine away after such period of time.

Polycarbonate based body armour are my first suggestion when considering issuing PPE to those men and women.  Having said that, we need to understand that an injury, like the one my friend Craig Wylde has suffered, would have not been prevented.  Why not?  The answer is coming next.

Slash Resistant Clothing

Going back briefly to the brutal assault on Craig Wylde and his injury, we have to admit that no body armour, regardless of its protection level and quality would have made any difference on that day. All body armour follow more or less the same design patterns and are made out of more or less very similar and usually commonly available materials.  They are designed to cover and protect your vital organs e.g. your heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. None of currently available body armour designs would have been any good for Craig as the precise location of where he was slashed would be totally exposed by any standard body armour anyway.  Also none of currently material used to produce body armour would allow us to offer effective, wearable, comfortable and operationally sensible protection to the following key areas and arteries:

Cut Tex PRO cut resistant fabric - protective areas - high res

The slashing/cutting of any of the above arteries would lead to rapid blood loss and in most cases death.  The slashing/cutting of the Radial Artery would lead to rapid blood loss but not necessary death, if the injured person has a reasonable understanding of emergency first aid or assistance is available.  The slashing/cutting of the Carotid Artery is unlikely to be survived.

#100108 - PPSS Slash Resistant T-Shirts

#100108 – PPSS Slash Resistant T-Shirts

High performance slash resistant clothing has recently been designed to offer concealable and effective protection to those key arteries. Incredible cut resistant fabrics, such as Cut-Tex® PRO have been developed to help improve the personal safety of homeland security professionals. Such fabrics are flexible, comfortable when worn directly against the skin for many hours a day, Latex® free, and do not cause any skin irritation when worn at ‘areas of friction’ e.g. under ones arms or between ones legs.

This type of PPE is also of extreme importance to ‘forced entry teams’ and other units, which raid properties and homes, and often access those through windows at lightning speed. The risk of laceration, especially to the wrists, forearms, throats and thighs is very high when coming in contact with broken glass stuck in window frames etc. Specially designed cut and slash resistant garments to protect those areas are now available via PPSS Group.

It is clear that a garment made out of this type of fabric would have fully prevented the injury suffered by Craig Wylde. Should this fact alone not encourage others to look into this type of PPE, unless we genuinely believe that this was a one off incident unlikely to occur again? I don’t even think this warrants any further commenting.

Conclusion

It is an unfortunate fact that, unless carefully trained to act otherwise, we human beings in general wait for things to happen and then search for solutions. In general we are ‘reactive’ rather than ‘pro-active’. The car seatbelt wasn’t developed, and the wearing of a seat belt wasn’t made compulsory because one guy had the idea that one day a person might get killed. It was designed and the wearing of it was made compulsory following thousands and thousands of traffic deaths, not after one death, after thousands of deaths. We wait till things go badly wrong before we become creative.

So, what are we going to do? Are we believing that some of the assaults and statistics have to be seen as ‘acceptable’ or are we simply not ready yet to make a stand and a real difference to the safety of corrections and prison officers? Would we prefer to wait just a little longer, or can we finally accept that enough is simply enough. If not every, but certainly most injuries and deaths within the corrections and prison sector are ultimately avoidable, based on careful intelligence gathering and sharing of such intelligence, making effective changes to SOPs, potentially stricter rules and regulations, and the issuing of wearable and sensible PPE.  The ultimate question is as simple as one question could ever be: “How much do you really want it to happen?”

In case you have any questions in reference to this article, please contact my team via email info@ppss-group.com or call our Headquarter +44 (0) 845 5193 953 or send me a private message or add your comment here.

Website:  www.ppss-group.com

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Body Armour? Why?

PPSS Hi Viz Overt Stab Resistant Vests have become the first choice of body armour for many public facing services due to their exceptional level of protection from blunt force trauma and hypodermic needles.

PPSS Hi Viz Overt Stab Resistant Vests have become the first choice of body armour for many public facing services due to their exceptional level of protection from blunt force trauma and hypodermic needles as well as unlimited shelf life.

In an ever changing world, where a lack of respect, lack of discipline and cultural and political unrest are the order of the day, appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) such as bullet resistant vests or stab resistant vests have become an essential piece of equipment for many domestic frontline professionals.

We all need to understand that a lack of adequate safety measures can put an individual at unnecessary risk, and cause unacceptable injury or harm… that’s a matter of fact and equally of relevance to those professionals protecting us from foreign threats from/in hostile countries far away, just as much as to those professionals engaging with hostile and abusive members of the public just around the corner from where we live.

At times we may prefer to close our eyes and not accept reality and neither responsibility, but body armour have regrettably become a real necessity within a number of homeland security agencies and even domestic frontline professions.

The United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Laboratory conducted a number of case studies about 10 years ago, and approached over 400 organisations of various sizes and across a range of different UK based domestically operating occupations.

Detailed questionnaires were sent and interviews were conducted with the selected organisations and the information which they provided formed the basis of these widely respected case studies. The outcome is of great relevance to the question: ‘Body Armour? Why?’

Highlighted Risk Areas

  • Visiting people in their home or office to enforce laws and regulations, police the system or being the bearer of bad news increases the level of risk and subsequently the need for body armour or stab resistant vests.
  • Certain geographical areas or trouble spots are high risk, such as poor or run down council estates or high crime level areas.
  • Dealing with certain high risk individuals, such as potentially violent or aggressive members of the public, drug users or dealers.
  • Dealing with extremely frustrated and disappointed customers (e.g. customers extremely unhappy with the service your or your partner organisation has provided)
  • Evicting people from their home.
  • Dealing with individuals expressing extreme religious or political views.
  • Securing or protecting property, events or people is a professional responsibility that certainly warrants the need for body armour or stab vests.
  • Enforcing the law

Any of the above points should in itself be reason enough to at least consider the issue of body armour, but I could highlight many more reasons, making a decision not to issue potentially life saving PPE even more controversial.

Corporate manslaughter and corporate homicide laws as well as health & safety regulations have been rewritten in countries around the world, in order to protect those who serve and risk their lives for others. The cost of facing potential legal action after a fatal or non-fatal incident and the real cost of injured employees taking time off would outweigh the one-off cost of body armour. Assaults on personnel who are not wearing body armour or other types of protective clothing also create bad publicity for the Authority concerned, not to mention the welfare of the person involved and operational problems resulting from the injured staff being unable to work.

The most popular argument against body armour I have personally come across is the concern about how it might be seen by the public when frontline employees start walking around in body armour. Well, I do understand that ‘perception’ is one of the most important issues within personal safety, and I equally understand if certain agencies and departments do not want their frontline staff to look like ‘paramilitary’ or ‘armed response units’.

For me, domestic frontline employees dealing with the public should be doing their utmost to express themselves as peaceful ambassadors within their line of work using excellent communication skills (…which is not always reality due to lack of training or appropriate language skills and other issues).

However, we do understand that certain professionals e.g. Police, Border Control, Immigration, Customs, Parking Enforcement, Trading Standards or Licensing Enforcement Officers need to be seen as ‘Authority’ or ‘visual deterrent’… hence many within these type of organisations prefer to wear OVERT Stab Resistant Vests or even HI VIZ OVERT Stab Resistant Vests which have recently become the public sector’s first choice.

A bespoke design of our overt stab resistant vest... developed for one of the London Borough Councils.

A bespoke design of our overt stab resistant vest… developed for one of the London Borough Councils.

Risk Assessments & Body Armour

Regardless of the outcome of any common risk assessment, the fact of the matter is that there is always an ‘unknown’ level of risk due to unforeseen circumstances. Ordinary risk assessments might often conclude in the verdict of ‘low risk’, however these often fairly basic risk assessments are based on technical facts or ‘on-hand information’ only, and as much as I appreciate them, they often do not go beyond these ‘available facts’.

A risk assessment dealing with the activity of an enforcement professional having to enter someone else’s property or deal with potentially ‘unhappy’ and frustrated or aggressive customers or clients can in my opinion, never ever result in low risk. The moment such professional walks through someone’s door or deals with often unfamiliar members of the public at another location, one can simply not know who else will be in the house or who else might enter the house at a later point.  What activities have taken place prior to your visit? Who else might be going to interfere or engage in your conversation at a later point? All of these issues and questions must have an impact when discussing operational risks, threats and duties and the potential issuing of stab resistant or bullet resistant vests.

The legal position is usually pretty clear… here in the UK it is as follows*:

  1. Employers are required to make a “suitable and sufficient” assessment of the risks involved in their business operations.
  2. When conducting the risk assessment the employer is required to consider “reasonably foreseeable” risks, and these risks would include the possibility of an employee in a confrontational role being assaulted.
  3. Employers are obliged to use “safe systems of work” which is why they must first do a risk assessment.
  4. If the risk assessment identifies the possibility of being stabbed as a significant risk then control measures must be designed into the safe system of work to either eliminate or minimise this risk.
  5. If, having considered all potential management techniques, the risk of being stabbed cannot be reduced below a significant level then the employer should consider the use of body armour – and will have to meet the cost of such equipment.
  • * above bullet points courtesy of Andy Farrall, Health & Safety Specialist

OF COURSE… for those who wish to find a legal loophole and a reason not to at least offer PPE and put their frontline staff at risk there will be a way I guess. But should we not aim to reduce the risks rather than invite our staff to accept risks, believing it will all be good?

Good question… what would you do if you were driving a car and your petrol light comes on, indicating you only have a small amount of petrol left? Would you start thinking: I am sure I can make it home? Or are you pulling over at the nearest petrol station reducing the risk of breaking down miles away from home? Some people would be willing to take the risk in this situation. In the workplace though, in my view, it is the duty of the employer to not allow their employees to take unknown risks on their own accord without the provision of equipment and training to protect them should they make a mistake in their own judgement.

‘Better safe than sorry’ and ‘Prevention is better than cure’ are two great sayings, making more sense within corporate health & safety than anywhere else. I hope you would stop and get some fuel, because you want to be on the safe side. You might have made it, but you didn’t want to take that risk. The bottom line is you cannot afford to break down. The fact that some professional’s activity involves a rather ‘unknown risk’ must urge key decision makers to remain at least open minded when it comes to body armour, stab resistant armor, body worn video solutions or additional training that can be made available.

‘Seat Belt’ Comparison

Recommending body armour does not mean we suggest you are in danger and neither does it mean you should get paranoid or scared 24 hours a day.  I simply say that you will have a higher chance of remaining unharmed in the unlikely, but nevertheless possible, case of something going wrong.

Wearing personal protective equipment can be compared to wearing a seat belt when driving a car. We do not put the seat belt on because we believe or even know we are going to have an accident today. Regardless of our own potentially advanced driving skills and technically advanced vehicle and clear road we plan to travel on… we still acknowledge the fact that there is an exceptionally small chance that we might crash. We might crash because someone else is not paying the attention they should… another driver might be playing with his mobile phone his sat nav or he or she might be eating or drinking whilst driving and not pay the required attention.  Another car might not be road worthy and cause a technical/mechanical error which could lead to a traffic accident involving or effecting your car too.  The fact of the matter is that if this becomes reality, you have increased the chance of survival by wearing a seat belt. I equally believe that a body armour can be potentially life saving.  Regardless of your beautiful and kind personality, the softness in your tone and your superb conflict management skills… sometimes it simply is out of our hands and we have to accept the fact that certain human beings can and will not treat us well and they are willing to harm us and they will do so no matter what we do or say. In such case a body armour will perform just like a seat belt in your car… reduce the severity of an injury and potentially even save lives.

500119 - PPSS Hi Viz Bullet Resistant Vest Model

Model #500119                                         PPSS Hi Viz Bullet Resistant Vest Model

In terms of design and manufacturing capabilities I think there is not a lot we cannot do. We have recently supplied the United Nations with a bespoke body armour design… and in addition we have now also created an overtly worn high visibility  bullet resistant vest (see image on the right) for those who need to be easily identified by the public during an escalating hostile incident.

We at UK headquartered PPSS Group are globally respected and renowned experts in body armour for civil and homeland security agencies, such as customs, immigration, border control etc as well as other domestic frontline services, such as paramedics, hospital security, brand protection, investigation teams, civil enforcement teams and public transport professionals.

Should you ever have any questions in reference to body armour, then please do not hesitate and contact my teams, and in the strictest of confidence they will help you to the best of their ability.

Please call +44 (0) 845 5193 953 or email info@ppss-group.com or visit:  www.ppss-group.com

Take good care of yourself!

Robert

Posted in Body Armour, bullet proof vests, bullet resistant vests, Stab Resistant Vests, Stab Vests | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

PPSS Group Appoints New Global Operations Director / 2IC

Tony Welsh - New Global Operations Director of PPSS Group

Tony Welsh – New Global Operations Director of PPSS Group

Over the recent six months it became absolutely paramount to me that I had to further strengthen this widely respected and ever so growing firm.

Creating operationally sensible contingency plans and grow my firm’s market share and brand awareness is clearly part of my job role.  To do so successfully it was crucial to have a 2IC (Second In Command) by my side to ensure we can cope with whatever business throws at us.

Following an 18 year career within British Armed Forces and security management in the private sector, Tony Welsh has today been appointed as new Global Operations Director of PPSS Group, helping me to achieve above objective.

Tony was previously employed by PPSS Group as Senior Body Armour Consultant in 2015 and we only parted company because we had different ‘temporary’ plans, but both of us felt the time will come where we would join forces again but on a more advanced level in our careers.

Previously, during his time as Custodial Advisor and Military Training Manager Tony has been overseeing the conducting of correctional training in firearms, tactics and military skills.

He was an advisor to multi-national forces deploying overseas on protective security issues in a custodial environment. He was also responsible for the training of British forces and ensuring policy and procedures were current in relation to BRITFOR Standing Orders and subsequent protocol.

Tony was working closely with ICRC to ensure compliance with Geneva Convention and its additional protocols in order to mitigate allegations, ensuring best practice and surety of detention.

His new job responsibilities will include the control of PPSS Group, effective and efficient staff training, the maintaining of positive working relationship with our international distribution partners, as well as the development of a solid and reliable network with leading operatives and key decision makers around the world.

So all I can say now is ‘welcome on board’ and ‘simul nos sunt fortis’.

Robert Kaiser, CEO

PPSS Group

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Stab Resistant Vests Can Effectively Help Protect Public Transport Professionals

PPSS Revenue Protection Inspector

There is no question about it… public transport professionals / revenue inspectors / revenue protection officers could benefit from stab resistant vests.

How can stab resistant vests help protect our public transport professionals?

Well, it is estimated that the UK rail network alone carries in excess of 750 million passengers each year.  If only a small percentage of these rail users travel without paying the appropriate fare the loss of revenue is considerable.

According to some of the UK’s leading public transport firms, we estimate that fare evasion costs the UK rail industry over £200 million a year.

Public Transport companies therefore employ Revenue Protection Inspectors or Fare Inspectors to patrol different forms of public transport (e.g. trains or buses) issuing penalty fares to passengers who travel without a valid ticket or without the correct ticket.

I strongly believe that lightweight stab resistant vests that also offer a great level of protection from blunt force trauma and hypodermic needles, will reduce the risk of physical injury when suffering from any type of assault by one of those individuals that have decided not to pay for their fare.

PPSS Hi Viz Overt Stab Resistant Vests have become the first choice of body armour for many public facing services due to their exceptional level of protection from blunt force trauma and hypodermic needles.

PPSS Hi Viz Overt Stab Resistant Vests have become the first choice of body armour for many public facing services due to their exceptional level of protection from blunt force trauma and hypodermic needles.

Of course, not everyone without a fare is a nasty and brutal individual, out there to seriously harm the first revenue protection officers they come across.  Some passengers may well have forgotten to pay for the fare; they may just have had too many things on their mind. This is of course all possible!

Possible is also that a particular passenger without a ticket simply never pays for his/her fare, that person may well be intoxicated, under the influence of class A drugs or alcohol. That person may well suffer from mental illnesses or have a real violent history, which means he or she will certainly not stop form harming a revenue protection officer in order to avoid identification or even arrest.

Risk Assessments & Stab Resistant Vests

In my operational career I had to write many many risk assessments, and I have learned that in most cases there are only two types of risks… ‘high risk’ or ‘unknown risk’.

Regardless of the fact that a train journey is crossing the most beautiful stretch of the British Isles and regardless of the fact that a bus journey might take place on a nice lovely sunny Sunday morning, the matter of fact is that we simply cannot know a) who will be on that train or bus, and b) what the passenger’s history is. What have they been through over the past 24 hours? What is the purpose of their journey?  Who will be under the influence of drugs or alcohol? There are simply too many variables to conclude this operation should be classed as ‘low risk’ and hence additional safety measures are not worth exploring. Getting these risk assessments right means establishing correctly if stab resistant vests would benefit the frontline professional… of is the safety of that professional would be improved to a reasonable level.

I do believe that a revenue protection inspector is facing what I would class as ‘unknown risk’ every single time he or she is approaching a member of the public asking for the ticket. OF COURSE I agree that to 99.99% of times that question is asked… a positive response may well be the result.  Having said that, I also believe that 0.01% of the above mentioned annual 750,000,000 passengers is a pretty interesting figure to work from.

In fact the figure is high enough for the British Transport Police and Chief Constable Paul Crowther to host a dedicated conference aimed at tackling and preventing violence and anti-social behaviour on public transport back in May this year.

Am I exaggerating?

Examples of Recent Incidents & Key Risks

  • During bus journeys robberies drivers have been threatened with knives, air guns, even samurai swords. During train journeys innocent passengers have been threatened and subjected to violence and racial abuse, often resulting in on board staff getting involved.
  • Recently a firework was thrown on to a bus. The driver managed to get out of the cabin in time but the force of the explosion damaged the cabin, shattering both front windscreens and damaging the assault screen.
  • Anti-social behaviour… several incidents have been recorded where youths urinated down the periscope through which the driver sees the top deck of the bus. In some cases the driver has left his cab to talk to the youths and was attacked by them. Other countless reports highlight the cutting and destruction of seating.
  • Some employees are required to carry cash… which risks theft.
  • Certain locations are particularly at risk from vandals and anti social behaviour.
  • Criminals, drunk passengers and drug users are all representing a realistic risk to frontline staff… and I do believe that stab resistant vests would improve their chances of remaining unharmed.

Recent Headlines

The public has been asked to help making travelling on buses and trains safer.  Campaigns have been initiated and several organisations are starting to pull together to make a positive difference.

But there is only so much we can do… and some individuals are just ‘bad’ and dealing with these individuals means exposing yourself to real risks.

In many cases, successful conflict management or conflict resolution training for all public facing employees can make a real positive difference and substantially reduced the risk of workplace related violence and subsequent injuries. In case anyone requires such training… please do get in touch.. I may well have the right contacts for you.

Better reporting procedures, personal attack alarms, body worn video solutions, assault screens and radio communication systems have also helped improved the personal safety of public transport professionals.

The question we need to ask ourselves is what can and should be done to create the highest possible chance of these Revenue Protection Inspector coming home at the end of their shift… unharmed?

As I have stated a few moments ago, I strongly believe that lightweight stab resistant will reduce the risk of physical injury when suffering from any type of assault by someone who didn’t pay for his ticket… or who couldn’t care less about complying with ‘rules and regulations’ or who doesn’t understand ‘manners’ and ‘respect’ and all the things that make a good society function.

Recommending stab resistant vests does not mean we suggest you or your colleague is in immediate danger and neither does it mean you should get paranoid or scared every single day you put your uniform on and start your shift.  I simply say that you will have a higher chance of remaining unharmed in the unlikely, but nevertheless possible, case of something going wrong.

I have said it many many times before… wearing personal protective equipment can be compared to wearing a seat belt when driving a car. We do not put the seat belt on because we believe we are going to have an accident today or because we are questioning our own driving skills. We are simply acknowledging the fact that there is an exceptionally small chance that we might crash. Yet, if this exceptionally small chance becomes reality, you have increased the chance of survival by wearing a seat belt. There is no question about that!

PPSS Group have designed, developed and manufactured stab resistant vests offering the highest level of protection from edged weapon, hypodermic needles and blunt force trauma.  Weighing just 2.5kg and being just 5mm thin this type of personal protective equipment (PPE) has recently become an essential tool to combat workplace violence related injuries and even death.

‘Perception’

Over the past few years I have personally advised many senior officials within public transport of the importance of ‘customer perception’. Many have echoed that overtly worn stab resistant vests can at times be perceived as ‘confrontational’, ‘aggressive’, paramilitary’ and ‘hard security’… something a public transport firm might well be opposed to.

Revenue Protection Officers can appear ‘approachable’, ‘helpful’ and ‘general safety conscious’ whilst wearing body armour… our recently developed ‘Tabard Style’ Hi-Viz Stab Resistant Vests are our a ‘non-confrontational’ design option and successfully worn by several customer facing professionals operating in a ‘higher risk environment’ e.g. facility management, hospital security and civil enforcement.

Due to their 'non-confrontational' design, PPSS Tabard Style Hi Viz Stab Vests have become the first choice of body armour for public facing organisations such as facility management, civil enforcement and public transport., as well as event security and crowd control.

Due to their ‘non-confrontational’ design, PPSS Tabard Style Hi Viz Stab Vests have become the first choice of body armour for public facing organisations such as facility management, civil enforcement and public transport., as well as event security and crowd control.

The UK rules and regulations are pretty straight forward. A revenue inspector’s or revenue protection officer’s job responsibility is to engage with any person who ‘misbehaves’… and what that means is stated as follows:

  • Entering any train for the purpose of travelling on the railway without a valid ticket entitling travel.
  • Failing to hand over a ticket for inspection and verification when asked to do so by an authorised person
  • Travelling on the railway without previously paid the fare and with the intention to avoid payment.
  • Having failed to pay the fare, giving a false name and/or address to an authorised person.
  • Being a person liable to pay a penalty fare did fail, at the time, and in response to an authorised officer did give a false name and/or address.
  • Altered or counterfeit ticket(s) or knowingly using any ticket which has been altered / forged in any way.
  • Smoking or carrying any lighted item on any part of the railway.
  • Any person believed by an authorised person to be unfit to be on the railway due a state of intoxication.
  • Use of any threatening, abusive, obscene of offensive language on the railway.
  • Behaving in a disorderly, indecent or offensive manner on the railway.
  • Any other unacceptable behaviour such as damaging or detaching any part of the railway, spitting, dropping litter, molesting or willfully interfering with the comfort or convenience of any person on the railway.

In my opinion these men and women who do this job may well not be the most popular guys out there… but they do deserve to be safe… end off!

Should you ever have any questions in reference to stab resistant vests, then please do not hesitate and contact my team, and in the strictest of confidence they will help you to the best of their ability.

Please visit www.ppss-group.com or email my team info@ppss-group.com or call us on +44 (0) 845 5193 953

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BitePRO™ Bite Resistant Clothing Is Effectively Protecting From Human Bites

There is no question in my mind… BitePRO™ Bite Resistant Clothing (using  100% Cut-Tex® PRO) can very effectively help protect special educational needs teachers (SpecEd, SpEd or SPED) as well as mental health care professionals and other specialists within high secure hospitals.

BitePRO Bite Resistant Polo Shirts can effectively help protect professionals specialising in special educational needs (SpecEd, SpEd or SPED), mental health care and those working within high secure hospitals.

BitePRO Bite Resistant Polo Shirts can effectively help protect professionals specialising in special educational needs (SpecEd, SpEd or SPED), mental health care and those working within high secure hospitals.

  • According to The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, bite injuries represent 1% of all emergency department admissions in the United States!
  • According to an article by Helen Acree Conlon, MS, MPH, ARNP, titled ‘Human Bites in the Classroom:  Incidence, Treatment and Complications’ it has been estimated that at least one half of the population will experience some type of bite in their lifetime. Human bites are the third leading cause of all bites seen in hospital emergency departments after dog and cat bites. Human bites can be the source of exposure to body fluids, transmission of communicable diseases, infections ranging from cellulitis to osteomyelitis, and joint deformity from septic arthritis.
  • According to data released by the UK’s NHS Security Management Service, mental health care professionals are far more likely to be attacked than other health care workers with a total of 38,958 assaults in 2008-09, accounting for 71% of attacks on health care staff during that period. However, the percentage of which involved human bites is unknown.

Mark Perry, appeared close to tears when attending the NASUWT (largest teachers union in the UK) conference in 2009 and telling fellow delegates of his experiences with disturbed ten-year-olds in Wrexham, North Wales. He described that on one occasion he was bitten so hard that blood was drawn.

Another delegate, Suzanne Nantcurvis, a geography teacher from Llangollen, North Wales, said she knew members who had been forced to pay for immunisations and protective equipment. ‘Biting is quite a big issue in special schools and when risk assessments are completed it is usual to put in the control measure of a protective arm guard,’ she said. (taken from UK newspaper ‘Daily Mail’, printed 16th April 2009)

BitePRO Arm Guards can prevent such injuries

BitePRO Arm Guards can prevent human bite injuries, which can subsequently be contaminated with pathogens. Transmissions of potentially life threatening viruses, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV

Debbie Townsend, Physical Intervention Training Manager of the Oxfordshire Learning Disability NHS Trust (UK) says: “Human bites can cause both physical injury, risk of infection, soft tissue damage and psychological distress to staff. Whilst our staff teams are usually aware of the potential for bites from records of previous incidents and preventative steps are taken, additional measure such as bite resistant clothing, to protect staff from a bite may be beneficial.”

How can BitePRO Bite Resistant Clothing help?

We are all too aware that bite related injuries can become infected and mental health care professionals, special educational needs teachers and others could subsequently be contaminated with pathogens. Transmissions of potentially life threatening viruses, such as Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C or HIV are also a part of reality, hence clothing which can prevent human teeth from penetrating the skin of one of the above highlighted professionals must be worthwhile investigating further.

Looking at the potential and realistic consequences, especially following a human bite, we must look at all possible options in order to help protect mental health care professionals, teachers within special needs schools and others working within challenging sectors e.g. autism and severe learning disabilities, from such consequences. These consequences in the very worst case scenario can include death, in case a serious and incurable disease has been transmitted.  

For these reasons, bite resistant arm guards have lately been issued to a number of professionals in countries around the world, successfully reducing the risk of workplace violence related injuries, severe, infections and bruising.

Please also allow me to point out that it is a very normal, natural and instinctive response (when in this case faced by a violent or distressed person) to want to lift our arms and hands in order to defend ourselves and protect our head and facial area.  However, we must acknowledge that this subsequently exposes our forearm and hands to a higher risk of danger of arm injuries.

BitePRO™ Arm Guards (Version 3) are manufactured using Cut-Tex® PRO, our ground-breaking bite resistant material that prevents human teeth from penetrating the wearer’s skin.

BitePRO™ Arm Guards (Version 3) are manufactured using Cut-Tex® PRO, our ground-breaking bite resistant material that prevents human teeth from penetrating the wearer’s skin.

In fact the majority of injuries found on police or security guards can be found on their forearms or open hands.  These are classed as ‘defensive injuries’, indicating a person was defending him/herself rather than attacking the other person.

For me there is no question about it… cut and bite resistant arm guards will significantly decrease the risk of injuries and subsequently reduce the risk of infections and cross contamination.

UK based PPSS Group have now also launched an additional model of their ‘Version 1′ Arm Guards, offering additional (padded) protection from blunt forced trauma, protecting the wearer from the risk of infection following a human bites as well as effectively reducing the severity of potentially extremely painful bruising.

BitePRO™ Arm Guards are manufactured using Cut-Tex® PRO, our ground-breaking bite resistant material that prevents human teeth from penetrating the wearer’s skin. This particular model provides additional protection to prevent severe bruising and blunt forced trauma - using specially engineered impact absorbing foam.

BitePRO™ Arm Guards ‘with added protection’ (#100503) provide additional protection to prevent severe bruising and blunt forced trauma – using specially engineered impact absorbing foam.

However, based on the many conversations I had over the past few years I can certainly confirm the main worry within most sectors seems to be the risk of infection.

Pleas take a moment and view our specialised online-shop, dedicated to BitePRO™ Clothing & Arm Guards:  www.bite-pro.com

If you want to discuss the potential use of bite resistant arm guards within  your organisation, then please contact our BitePRO™  Expert Eve Ichim.

Please email info@bite-pro.com

Eve has developed into a globally recognised and respected expert on bite resistant clothing for mental health care, special educational needs schools and secure/psychiatric hospitals and she would be delighted to hear from you.

Our clients around the world have learned to understand the immense benefits BitePRO is bringing to the safety of their frontline staff:

In my field of helping people with disabilities, we often face daily challenges but with the peace of mind that our staff are well protected, we are able to attend to the needs of the clients without having to worry about becoming injured. So far through daily use of BitePRO Arm Guards, my staff have not been injured on their arms while wearing the sleeve guards and are completely satisfied with the high quality products.” – Sterling Barbosa – Valley Achievement Center, California, USA

Take good care of yourself.

Robert Kaiser, CEO

PPSS Group

Posted in Bite Protection Arm Guards, Bite Resistant Arm Guards, BitePRO, BitePRO Arm Guards | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Body Armour Can Effectively Help Protect Cash & Valuable in Transit Professionals

JS75074579Cash and Valuables in Transit (CVIT) companies are involved in transporting, storing and sorting cash and other valuables, typically for retail and financial organisations as well as other members of the public sector where the availability of cash is essential for day to day business. They play a vital role in replenishing and protecting cash supplies for the business world and the wider community, keeping our economy running.

Based on reports by the BSIA (British Security Industry Association) these guys transport around £500,000,000,000 (that’s ½ trillion GBP) every year the UK alone, which makes Cash & Valuable in Transit Professionals perform an important service, supporting banks and businesses up and down the country.

However, I think it is rather obvious that the large amount of money and valuables involved make Cash & Valuable in Transit Professionals a prime target for both the organised crime organisations who every so often invest a lot of time carefully monitoring and studying their targets, and also those who turn to crime when in their opinion ‘an opportunity arises’.

These just a very few of the news that made the headlines over the past year in the UK alone:

  • “A gang of cash-in-transit robbers has been jailed…”
  • “Man jailed for cash-in-transit robberies…”
  • “Birmingham cash van robbers jailed for 35 years…”
  • “Statistics show threats still remain against cash-in-transit couriers…”
  • “Robbers ‘armed to the teeth’ attack Co-op store as cash delivery is made…”
  • “Father and son jailed after cash-in-transit robbery at…”
  • “Cash in transit attack forces driver to take refuge in toilets…”

In many cases the offenders were armed with weapons including edged weapon, sledgehammers, meat cleavers, axes and even a Samurai sword.

There is no question about it, armed robberies and violent assaults of all sorts have become a very real risk to these men, and we all will understand that becoming a victim of such crime can lead to long term physical and psychological damage and distress.

With most robberies and attacks on couriers taking place as they cross the pavement, I am aware that security and safety professionals (and organisations) are keen to find ways to minimise the distance couriers have to travel between the CVIT vehicle and the delivery premises, or by campaigning to allow these professionals to briefly park at ‘no parking’ spots.

Having said that, looking into effective PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) such as ‘operationally sensible’ body armour must also be part of the ‘package’ when exploring all options on how to effectively reduce the risk of injuries on these professionals.

So, what it the right type of body armour based on the operational risks, threats and duties of Cash & Valuable in Transit Professionals?

Design?

The options are rather endless. One CTIV firm might prefer this typical black overt body armour design, where others might like to see their corporate colours being part of the body armour, as branding has become an important thing for many firms. PPSS Group is specialised in the design, development and manufacturing of bespoke designed body armour: please click here

Covert or Overt? 

Well I really would suggest overt body armour, so the guys wearing them can open the body armour (by simply unzipping the front) when back in a ‘safe environment’ (the vehicle) and let the body and skin breathe a little. No one really likes wearing body armour and at times the wearer can become very hot, even when wearing one of the latest high performance body armour, so why not enabling the wearer to cool down for a moment whenever possible and whenever it is safe for them to do so?

Protection Level? 

Well, I don’t necessarily believe bullet resistant vests are the way forward.  No soft body armour will protect you from sawn off shot guns anyway (and they are the type of firearm being used in those very rare cases where guns played a part).  The velocity and ‘spread’ of such weapon would most likely kill anyway.  For me the key when selecting the right body armour is the highest level of ‘blunt force trauma protection’ as blunt objects and the type of weapon that would lead to blunt force trauma injuries are the weapon of choice in such scenario.  Of course, certified protection from edged weapon would be crucial too… but for me the crucial combination of the highest possible level of blunt force trauma protection and a good level of edged weapon protection would be the best way forward.

PPSS Bespoke Stab Resistant Vest in Navy Blue

PPSS Bespoke Stab Resistant Vest in Navy Blue

PPSS Overt Stab Resistant Vests Model in Black

PPSS Overt Stab Resistant Vests Model in Black

High performance stab resistant vests made by UK headquartered PPSS Group are without any question the best possible choice. The unmatched level of blunt force trauma protection and superb protection from all types of edged weapon, along with an unlimited shelf life makes our unique body armour the ultimate choice for such operational risk and threat level.

In case you have any questions in regards to our high performance PPSS Body Armour, please make contact by either email info@ppss-group.com or telephone +44 (0) 845 5193 953.

Stay safe.

Robert

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Anti-Spit Masks To Help Protect Frontline Professionals

PPSS Anti Spit Masks | Effectively helping protect prison officers, law enforcement officers and paramedics, from infectious diseases.

PPSS Anti Spit Masks | Effectively helping protect prison, police, security and health care professionals from potentially long last lasting infectious diseases and emotional distress.

PPSS Anti-Spit Masks have effectively helped protect prison, police, law enforcement and security professionals as well as paramedics and other frontline staff from Hepatitis B and C and other infectious diseases such AIDS.

Unions representing the interest of the above professionals in countries around the world have for some time raised serious concerns about the increasing number of spitting incidents, as it has well known serious potential health risks. It is not just the officer that is affected but also their family, as tests and treatment for suspected contagious diseases can last for several months and lead to severe stress and anxiety.

During a recent court case (February 2015) against a 27 year old man who spat into a police officer’s face the leading judge said:  “The actual assault of spitting is taken extremely seriously by the courts. Spitting is particularly distressing for victims – it’s a very nasty form of assault.”  I couldn’t agree more.

Headlines, which should ‘ignite’ discussions about anti spit masks:

  • “Drunk woman vomited and spat in the face of police officer…”
  • “Man spat into police officer’s face after 100mph car chase…”
  • “Handcuffed woman spat in police officer’s face…”
  • “Blood spat in officer’s face’ after disturbance in…”
  • “Drunk nurse spat at police officers and abused ambulance…
  • “Man ‘spat in police officer’s mouth following arrest’ in…”

Police in New Zealand have reported difficulties in restraining drunk and drugged people and preventing them from hurting themselves, according to NZ police magazine Ten-One. A two-year safety review of 8000 cases found nearly 10 per cent of offenders had spat at officers, who had limited tools to deal with it.

The ‘Reporting Services’ of the London Metropolitan Police published that ‘The Count Of Noticeable Offences where the classification method featured either the keyword ‘spit’, ‘spitting’ or ‘spat’ and there is a recorded victim with an occupation of ‘Police Service’,  there have been 2,416 incidents between 1st January 2010 and 31st October 2013.

2,416 frontline professionals of which we don’t know how many ended up with a serious infections disease, but who undoubtedly will have been waiting anxiously for the results of their blood following the 14 days of the assault.

Over the past two years I have given ‘off the record’ access to risk assessments conducted by police forces and ambulance/paramedics in several countries around the world. There is no question in my mind that everyone charged with ensuring the safety of frontline staff is slowly coming to the conclusion that a ‘spitting assault’ in one’s face is disgusting and can have fatal consequences.

These risk assessments usually cover a number of aspects, which need evaluating:

  • Significant hazards
  • Who may be harmed?
  • Realistic Outcome
  • Existing Controls
  • Risk Rating (Low – High) or (1-5)
  • Additional Controls
  • Action taken (by who and when)

In the U.S. anti spit masks have been in use for a pretty long time now.  Judges have ordered prison officers and court officials to cover the heads of certain prisoner when attending court due their history of committing such assaults… and yes… we can call this an ‘assault’.

Thousands of anti spit masks are now being carried by thousands of law enforcement, prison and ambulance professionals, ready to be ‘deployed’ and used as soon as a hostile or intoxicated member of the public represents a realistic threat.

I am extremely confident that PPSS Anti-Spit Masks can make the difference between staying safe or suffering from a potentially long lasting and severe illness. When confronted by a hostile or intoxicated member of the public, a combatant, prisoner, disturbed hospital patient or service user, the risk of being spat on is realistic and protection from such threat is in my opinion very sensible.

Please watch this video:

ppss-anti-spit-mask

… a ‘member of the public’ spitting at me.

spit-mask

… non of his bodily fluid is making contact with me but is rather kept contained within the anti-spit mask and then channeled vertically down.

PPSS Anti-Spit Masks are compact, easy to deploy, safe, disposable and individually packed devices, already used by agencies and organisations around the world. This type of device is to be slipped over the head of a combatant, prisoner or seriously intoxicated or aggressive member of the public following his arrest.

I am of course fully aware that the use of anti-spit masks has been questioned by some people (e.g. human right campaigners) in the past, raising concerns in terms of the risk of suffocation, especially when such anti-spit mask is forced over the head of someone suffering from breathing difficulties.

Human rights activist also raised their voices claiming it could send wrong signals or even raising concerns of the ‘look’.  Some human activists with rather strong opinions even compare the use of anti-spit masks with the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, questioning if such device should be used on someone because he or she is just very drunk.

Well, please allow me to make this one very clear here… my firm and my widely reported and genuine passion is not about the personal appearance of someone who is hostile, physically aggressive, completely out of control and clearly willing to harm someone who protect and serve the community.

The mission statement of my firm PPSS Group is simple and clear: “Protecting Frontline Professionals From Human Threats”.

Human Threats” = firearms, edged weapons, hypodermic needles, human bites and in context of our latest product… someone spitting saliva or potentially infected blood right into your face!

The future use of PPSS Anti-Spit Masks will be controversial, but no one can fault my firm for our genuine desire to want to reduce operational risks, workplace violence related injuries and in extreme cases even death.

When I discussed my plans to launch this product around the world a couple of years ago a close friend of mine with extensive operational experience said:

“Hundreds of detention centers, correctional institutions, police stations and hospitals in the U.S. are already successfully using such equipment, they have seen the sense in such device ages ago, and there is no question about it more and more countries will follow suit in the following years.”

Well… I agree.  For me personally it is absolutely key that whatever we at PPSS Group design, develop and manufacture it must be a) right and b) good… and I believe anti-spit masks are precisely that!

If you have any further questions in reference to PPSS Anti-Spit Masks, please visit www.ppss-group.com email my team info@ppss-group.com or call us on +44 (0) 845 5193 953

Be safe.

Robert

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Understanding Blunt Force Trauma | Backface Signature

What actually is ‘blunt force trauma’ or in military terms ‘backface signature’ and what type of injuries are the result?

PPSS backface signature injury image

The image of a ‘blunt force trauma’ or in military terms ‘backface signature’ injury was taken 48 hours after I was being shot testing our high performance bullet resistant vests by a Glock 17 firing a 9mm Para round from 9ft distance (the video can be viewed on YouTube). The black mark is a ‘burn mark’ resulting from the heat (due to the deformation of the impacting round)

Please let me answer this question in the shortest possible way, without throwing some hyper intellectual medical terminologies at you even I don’t understand myself. In more simple and understandable terms and in context of this blog, ‘blunt force trauma injuries’ and ‘backface signature injuries’ are the type of injuries that occur under your skin when a ballistic projectile is halted by your bullet resistant vest.  Even when the round is stopped, you can suffer an injury under your bullet resistant vest.

The severity of such injury is primarily determined by the speed, caliber, velocity and weight of the projectile, and can range in severity from a basic bruise to a ‘compression’ type injury and in the worst case scenario result in ruptured organs, internal bleeding and ultimate your death.

‘Blunt force trauma’ and ‘backface signature’ is the result of the energy exchange between the impacting projectile and the human body (shielded by a bullet resistant vest) which does not involve penetration of the skin.

The key task over every body amour is to a) stop the projectile, and b) protect you from internal injury resulting from the impact energy, and this is done by allowing the projectile to make contact, absorb the energy, deform or ‘mushroom’ the projectile, and then spread the impact of the projectile over a wide area of the torso, rather than leaving it concentrated in a particular spot.

Please let me make you aware of the fact that the thinner a bullet resistant vests is, the more ’blunt force trauma’ may occur when being hit by a round.

Of course… and unfortunately… any added layer of any ballistic material will of course increase the bulk of a body armour, hence body armour manufacturers are constantly fighting relentlessly to launch and produce the thinnest and lightest bullet resistant vests, sometimes willingly making sacrifices in regards to the protection from above highlighted injuries… just to make that so very special claim of being able to provide the thinnest vest and in order to get max level of media attention.

The key objective of high performance body armour must be to offer all required ballistic protection whilst using extremely effective, energy absorbing and impact reducing materials. Some ‘Ballistic Backing Materials’ or ‘trauma liner’ used for high performance bullet resistant vests are now less than 1mm thin, but I have seen many ‘ballistic packs’ without such important ‘ingredient’.

10 important facst about bullet resistant vests - robert kaiser 2

Now, trying to understand what is a good or bad body armour, ‘Backface Signature’ can be tricky because of the different test standards. In European, German and British standards, there is an allowable 20 to 25mm ‘Backface Signature’. The U.S. NIJ standard permits 44mm, which could allow for an internal injury. Ever since its introduction, the 44mm ‘Backface Signature’ was regarded as controversial. And, there is still discussion about the importance of ‘Backface Signature’ vs. penetration-resistance among the testing and medical groups.

To comply with ‘NIJ Standard 0101.06 for Ballistic Resistance of Body Armor’, the deformation (Backface Signature) a projectile creates upon impact cannot exceed 44mm (1.73 in.) in depth. To measure this depth, a vest is shot against a block of Roma Plastalina Clay. The vest is then removed, revealing a circular shape of deformation in the clay. A metal scraper is used to smooth the edge of the deformation, as an elevated ridge may have formed around it. A calliper is then used to measure the exact depth of the deformation.

Screen shot 2016-02-20 at 14.17.18

Screen shot 2016-02-20 at 14.18.35

I urge law enforcement officers and security professionals to make a conscious decision when purchasing bullet resistant vests.  What is the most important criteria for YOU?  The concealability, the weight and the thickness of a bullet resistant vest, or the highest level of protection from ‘blunt force trauma’?

I would suggest this should be subject of your operational duties and requirements. If the concealability of a bullet resistant vest is key for you due to operational risks/threats/requirements, then you need to look for the thinnest and lightest body armour, and the ‘blunt force trauma’ protection may have to become secondary as most body armour manufacturers have now pushed technology to the very max.

Clearly the most important thing is to wear body armour that actually will stop the projectile… otherwise the risk of dying or a round entering you upper body and ricocheting in your rib cage and exiting via your skull is a real probability. Making sure you can go home to your family after the job is done is rather important.

The most in-depth research study on ‘blunt force trauma injuries’ or ‘backface signature injuries’ sutained while wearing such body armour can be found here (click here).

The 2008 article by Marianne Wilhelm “Injuries to law enforcement officers: The backface signature injury” is a really worth hile read for those who either have a serious need or ‘thirst’ for additional information/knowledge in this field.

I have mentioned this in my previous blog, but please allow me to repeat it… based on one of the most informative research projects on body armour worn by US Law Enforcement Officers ever, we can confirm that thousands of lives have been saved since the first officer was shot wearing a modern body armour in 1972.  Over 70% of law enforcement agencies report issuing body armour to all officers, and 53% made the wearing of bullet resistant vests compulsory when on duty. For further information on this survey please read: “Highlights of a truly informative police body armour survey

Any questions?

If so, please call my team at PPSS Group on +44 (0) 845 5193 953 or email info@ppss-group.com or visit www.ppss-group.com

Take good care of yourself.

Robert Kaiser

Posted in ballistic vests, Body Armour, bullet proof vests, bullet resistant vests | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

10 Key Facts To Consider When Buying Bullet Resistant Vests

10 important facst about bullet resistant vests - robert kaiser 2

  1. Bullet ‘proof’ doesn’t exist!

Your body armour will not protect you from all ballistic threats. It is a fabric based garment, not a magical indestructible barrier. Yes, body armour can be an outstanding fabric garment, but no body armour is ‘bulletproof’ but only ‘bullet resistant’ and we are very keen to make this clear every time we engage with customers. Every body armour can be defeated by a round, subject to the weight, its velocity, speed or calibre, or the angle the shot is being fired.

  1. Your bullet resistant vests should stop the rounds fired by your own firearm!

Different government and security agencies wear different body armour and choose different protection levels. It’s hard for you or your agency to anticipate what handgun and round represents the most realistic threat, but there’s one threat you can anticipate: Your own sidearm.

A shocking number of law enforcement and security professionals are shot with their own weapons after their gun has been grabbed or accidentally discharged, or they got hit by a round fired by their own colleagues during a ‘chaotic’ fire exchange, so your body armour should be able to defeat the rounds used by yourself and the other officers in your agency.

  1. Unless your body armour is certified to a stab resistance standard your body armour is not likely to protect you from a knife attack!

Stab resistant vests are a totally different type of body armour than bullet resistant vests.  Every bullet resistant vest will offer some level of stab protection, but in many cases to a very minimal level.  On the other side, no stab resistant vest will offer any ballistic protection!

From the manufacturing point there is a massive difference between both threats and the technology used to protect from either threat is a different too.

If there is an identifiable and realistic operational ballistic and edged weapon threat than I do suggest to issue ‘Dual Purpose Vests’ or ‘Multi-Threat Vests’.  They are of course available, but they are thicker, heavier and in most cases more expensive.

  1. Throw away your body armour after you have been shot!

The following is of equal importance to both bullet resistant vests and stab resistant vests… when being hit throw the body armour away.

We can compare it to a motorbike helmet.  When you have an accident you really should get rid of your helmet, regardless if you can see a visible crack or not.  There might be a structural damage to the helmet, invisible to the human eye. The level of protection is now ‘unknown.

In regards to body armour this is just the same.  Only because a ‘bullet’ didn’t penetrate the body armour, the body armour might have had to work to the very best of its ability to stop that round and the internal damage the round has done to the protective layers might prevent it from offering the same level of protection in the future… do not take such risk if avoidable!

  1. Never wash your ballistic panels/inserts!

The best way to clean your ballistic panels is with a damp sponge and maybe some gentle soap. Don’t throw them in the washing machine, don’t use bleach, don’t put them in the dryer and don’t iron them.

  1. Kevlar® is really not the only ballistic material!

The first viable bullet resistant material was Kevlar® made by DuPont, in fact for a long time people called bullet resistant vests, ‘Kevlar Vests’.  Well, today Kevlar® might still be a reasonably popular bullet resistant material, but there are really several other high performance ballistic materials on the market, and many body armour manufacturers even use ‘systems’ that incorporate more than one single material in the same vest.

Currently, the most popular ballistic materials for body  armour are Kevlar®, Twaron®, Goldflex®, Spectra Shield® and of course Dyneema®.  Some of these belong to the family of aramid fibres and some to the family of polyethylene fibres… each offering unique advantages.

  1. There’s only one right way!

Ballistic panels are designed to fit into your carrier in a very specific way. For example getting it wrong after the washing of the outer cover and re-inserting the ballistic panel incorrectly can lead to the loss of life!

The strike face of the ballistic panel is designed to slow the bullet and disperse the bullet’s energy whereby the back of the panel is responsible to minimise the level of blunt force trauma.

  1. Treat your body armour with care

Ballistic panels are made of many layers of bullet resistant materials. If they get bent out of shape, they simply cannot be ironed or straightened out again that easily. Also if you smash a sweaty vest into the bottom of your locker, it will dry in that shape.

If at all possible lay your body armour flat down in a dry environment e.g. office. A second option is to hang it up on a simple coat hanger, but don’t just throw it in the corner where people stamp on it etc. Remember your level of care can have an impact on the performance it will offer when you need it the most.

  1. What does it feel like to get shot in your body armour?

First of all there are numerous cases of officers who have been shot in their body armour, all of which will end up with a nasty-looking bruise caused by blunt force trauma. But it is unlikely that it will even incapacitate you. Many officers shot in their armour have been able to shot back at their attacker, and in many cases they have been able to neutralise the threat.

So what does it feel like to get shot by a 9mm or .44Mag round?  Many would think it will feel like being hit by a hammer.  Well, that’s not true at all. It rather is an extremely sharp and stingy and very pointed pain, which will most likely wind you for a couple of seconds. Due to the kinetic energy and deformation of the ‘bullet’ within a fraction of a second the heat will also potentially leave a small burn mark on your skin at the pint of impact.

If you have suffered from such assault you must seek immediate medical help and get checked out in case of any internal bleeding suffered due to rupture of any organs.

  1. What is the latest international standard for body armour?

Many countries e.g. Germany and the UK have their own ‘body armour standard’. The one that is more or less accepted around the world is the ‘Ballistic Resistance of Body Armour NIJ Standard 0101.06’.

NIJ Standard 0101.06 establishes minimum performance requirements and test methods for the ballistic resistance of personal body armour intended to protect against gunfire. This minimum performance standard is a revision of NIJ Standard 0101.04. It is a technical document that specifies the minimum performance requirements that equipment must meet to satisfy the requirements of criminal justice agencies around the world.

The highest possible level of ballistic protection possible for soft body armour is Level IIIA. Higher levels of protection from rifle ammo is only possible with aid of additional ballistic plates.

Any questions or concerns in reference to body armour… or any support we can offer… please make contact with me and my team: info@ppss-group.com or call +44 (0) 845 5193 953

Stay safe

Robert

Posted in Body Armour, bullet proof vests, bullet resistant vests, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Should Body Armour Become Standard Equipment For University Security Guards?

PPSS Hi Viz Overt Stab Resistant Vests offer truly outstanding protection from blunt force trauma related injuries, often the result of a punch, kick or blow of a blunt object.

PPSS Hi Viz Overt Stab Resistant Vests offer truly outstanding protection from blunt force trauma related injuries, often the result of a punch, kick or blow of a blunt object. This type of body armour has become the university security’s first choice of body armour as they also create an image of ‘being approachable’… willing to ‘offer help’ when needed.

With a noticeable increase of young people moving away from home and beginning life on campus, university security guards are absolutely essential in order to ensure the personal safety and protection of our students.

In fact, organisations such as the U.S. based IACLEA (International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators) and UK based AUCSO (Association of University Chief Security Officers) have specialised themselves in, and dedicated themselves to improving the safety of universities and higher education colleges.

However it is rather saddening to see that countries such as my home country Germany still don’t see a need for dedicated security teams securing these institutions.

Why do we have dedicated police in the U.S. and Security Managers and Security Guards in the UK and no one fully responsible for this in many other European countries?

I would love to hear from those in charge of campus police or university security and have an ‘off the record’ or ‘on the record’ chat and I am happy to include their comments here and update my blog frequently moving forward if permission is given.

The Security Services within universities usually provide security patrols, surveillance and emergency response for all University property. Their officers are usually on duty 24 hours a day, every day of the year and the reason why I believe stab resistant vests of similar type of body armour should form part of their PPE is based on their operational duties and risks, which include:

  1. Questioning the presence of strangers within the university campus/complex represents a clear operational risk especially if their behviour can be classed as ‘suspicious’.
  2. Conducting night patrols (with many universities being based near city center locations and also having an active night life the presence of intoxicated members of the public is reality).
  3. Securing the buildings (buildings that often harbour multi-millions of pounds worth of technical and scientific equipment, which may well be of great interest to members of the criminal community)
  4. Taking on additional responsibilities, such as the control of anti-social behaviour and the confiscation of alcohol and other substances etc.
  5. Monitoring and identifying any attempts of any religious extremists groups to influence or manipulate students… often with the clear objective of ‘recruiting’ new followers in an environment where individuals are still looking for their chosen life path. Please read: “Crackdown on hate preachers at university.

A rather interesting list of all attacks within U.S. based sub-secondary schools (universities and higher education collages) can be found on Wikipedia and was quite an eye opener for me: click here

I certainly don’t believe this is a U.S. exclusive issue. It may well be a few years ago now, but I remember very well when one security guard was stabbed several times whilst trying to apprehend three trouble making teenagers on the campus grounds of Leeds Metropolitan University in 2008, literally a mile away from where my wife was born and grew up.

Following this event one security guard made a very serious comment when confirming concerns about equipment levels and said that it was as a result of a similar incident that stab resistant vests had been issued to security officers at Leeds University.” Please see: Yorkshire Evening Post, 3 October 2010.

On 9 February 2012 the Warrington Guardian highlighted an incident in which a university security guard found himself dealing with knife-wielding burglar Anthony Web who was subsequently send to prison.

On 28th April 2012 the Hull Daily Mail reported about two brothers who kicked and stamped on a security guard after he caught them breaking into a university building and also were subsequently send to prison.

I think it is rather sensible to acknowledge that security guards patrolling university campuses put themselves at risk when going about their daily duties. This ‘higher risk level’ especially within some direct face to face interactions, usually justifies or requires dedicated conflict management training as well as personal protective equipment in the form of stab resistant vests offering also good levels of protection from blunt force trauma injuries.

Blunt force trauma injuries are usually the result when being punched, kicked or when individuals hit you with a blunt object or throw things at you. This type of injury is a) a hundred times more realistic and likely than an edged weapon attack, and b) can just be as severe or damaging than an attack using an edged weapon or even firearm.

Several University Security Managers have been enquiring as to the use of of our unique stab resistant vests within their line of work due and subsequently issued their frontline staff with such type of equipment. In my opinion they have done the right thing, they taken precautionary steps, rather than being reactive and waiting for an incident to happen and then having to deal with the operational, emotional and legal nightmare they may well face after such incident.

There is no question about it… PPSS Stab Resistant Vests offer truly outstanding advantages and equal levels of protection and are an ideal solution for university security professionals:

  • 400108 - PPSS-Hi-Viz-Stab-Resistant-Vest low resExceptional protection from the most realistic and most common threat: ‘blunt force trauma’… meaning kicks, punch, hits from blunt objects, bricks, falls etc.
  • UK Home Office certified protection from edged weapon… as well as hypodermic needles
  • ‘Unlimited Shelf Life’… resulting in on going savings when compared to Kevlar based vests, which need replacing every 3 to 5 years due to the fact that they degrade when exposed to moisture from sweat / rain or when exposed to UV light.

The following video could be classed as ‘physical evidence’ for the quality and performance of PPSS Stab Resistant Vests:

PPSS Group is a UK based manufacturer of certified bullet resistant vestsstab resistant vests and the company behind a range of cut and slash resistant garments made out of 100% Cut-Tex® PRO… the world’s strongest cut resistant fabric.

In case you have any questions in regards to my blog… please comment or email my team info@ppss-group.com or call us +44 (0) 845 5193 953

Stay safe

Robert

Posted in Body Armour, Stab Resistant Vests, Stab Vests | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments