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NPCC says next generation body armour will tackle weight issue

The next generation of body armour will be designed to alleviate the problems highlighted by the Police Federation says the NPCC

The NPCC revealed it is now working with the government’s defence scientists to set the procurement rules so the next generation of armour solves the issues raised.

As part of its wellbeing week, the Police Federation had warned that officers are wearing the heavy equipment, along with an array of other kit for up to eight hours.

They are then compounding the health risks by sitting in adapted office chairs or vehicle seats that were designed for civilian use.

NPCC lead for Police Uniform, Chief Constable Simon Cole said: “Officers and staff across all 43 forces in England & Wales have been involved in the recent fit, comfort and wearability study which DSTL (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory) have been working on with Coventry University.

“We are currently in the process of procuring the next generation of body armour. This armour incorporates the most recent cutting-edge technological advances and will be tested according to the latest standards. That includes it being worn by operational colleagues.”

CC Coles added: “Any initiative that raises awareness and a greater understanding of officer and staff welfare is welcomed, and we are engaging with the Police Federation through the National Body Armour Sub-Group and the National Uniform Working Group to address these concerns.”

As part of its Back to Basics campaign, the Fed had warned officers – particularly response teams – are routinely sitting in vehicles for long periods of time in full kit.

The Federation had set up a working group to examine the issues and found problems not only with the weight of the plates used, but also the weight of what officers carry such as mobile units and kit.

Local Fed Chairs had earlier in the week urged members to wear their body armour “appropriately for the good of their long-term health”.

Dyfed Powys Secretary Roger Webb warned the weight of the kit could contribute to health issues and he encouraged officers to take it off when not needed.

He said: “Body armour is an essential and potentially life-saving piece of kit. However, the weight of wearing it long-term over whole shifts has the potential to cause harm such as back, shoulder or muscle problems.

“We’ve launched our Back to Basics drive to make members aware of the issue. We’d encourage officers to take off their armour when it’s not needed, such as when they’re back at the office or in the car.”

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