Home » Lawless Britain: Shopping centre cleaners given STAB-PROOF VESTS after surge in violence

Lawless Britain: Shopping centre cleaners given STAB-PROOF VESTS after surge in violence

Cleaners at a shopping centre in Kent have been given stab-proof vests following a surge in violence against workers.

“Front-of-house” staff at County Square in Ashford have been issued hi-vis protective gear – which costs up to £600 – after other employees had been assaulted.


Security guards at the centre have been wearing protective clothing since last summer, but it has now been rolled out to more staff.

A spokesman for the centre said: “Our [security] officers have been wearing the vests since last summer.

Cleaners at County Square in Ashford have been given stab-proof vests amid a surge on violent attacks on staff

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“As they were well received, we rolled them out to the entire front-of-house team as part of their personal protective equipment.”

He added: “PPE of this nature is becoming a standard issue in the shopping centre industry.”

The decision comes amid a 50 per cent rise in violent incidents against staff in the UK last year, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Last month, bakery chain Greggs announced that some of its staff will be using body cameras in an attempt to deter customer attacks and theft.

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Boots also implemented the security devices, following an alarming rise in thefts and threats in stores across the UK.

Retail crime has cost businesses £1.7billion in the last year, according to estimates by the British Retail Consortium.

The number of incidents was up 32 per cent compared with the 304,459 in the previous 12 months, even surpassing the previous high of 382,642 incidents in 2018.

The shopping centre’s decision has been warmly welcomed by shoppers, who believe staff need better protection following a surge in crime.

Tracey Smith told The Times: “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.

“Whenever we come here, we have always felt safe. But they have got to protect staff. Hopefully they are never needed.”

Rishi Sunak

Rishi Sunak announced that Government will amend the Criminal Justice Bill to make assaulting a shopworker a separate criminal offenc

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County Square in Ashford

Security guards at the shopping centre have been wearing protective clothing since last summer, but it has now been rolled out to more staff

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Shopper Derek Warner said that the vests may “just be part of life now” and applauded the centre for looking out for the staff.

Last year, after some staff members were “physically assaulted”, County Square began shutting earlier.

In 2020, a group of teenagers carrying knives around the centre were reported, causing armed police to be deployed. No one was harmed in the incident.

Rishi Sunak announced on April 10 that the Government will amend the Criminal Justice Bill to make assaulting a shopworker a separate criminal offence

He said: “I am sending a message to those criminals – whether they are serious organised criminal gangs, repeat offenders or opportunistic thieves – who think they can get away with stealing from these local businesses or abusing shopworkers, enough is enough.

“Our local shops are the lifeblood of our communities, and they must be free to trade without the threat of crime or abuse.”