Cleaners at shopping centre given stab proof vests amid rise in staff assaults

12 April 2024, 12:53 | Updated: 12 April 2024, 12:54

Staff at County Square shopping centre have been given stab-proof vests
Staff at County Square shopping centre have been given stab-proof vests. Picture: Google Images

By Flaminia Luck

Stab-proof vests have been handed to cleaners at a shopping centre in Kent amidst a worrying rise in attacks on members of staff.

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Bosses at County Square shopping centre in Ashford have equipped “the entire front-of-house team” after the trial last year was “well received”.

A spokesman for the precinct says stab vests - which can cost up to £600 - are becoming common in shopping centres.

The measure have been branded a "sign of the times" by shoppers.

The vests can cost up to £600
The vests can cost up to £600. Picture: Getty Images

Bosses made the decision after a masked gang “rampaged” through the shopping centre brandishing knives and a machete back in 2020.

No one was hurt in the incident but armed police were called, which ultimately led to six arrests, including four teenagers.

The police later confirmed that three knives were confiscated.

Read more: Thousands of doctors 'planning to leave NHS and move abroad for better pay'

The spokeswoman said: “Our officers have been wearing the vests since last summer.

“As they were well received, we rolled them out to the entire front-of-house team as part of their Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

“PPE of this nature is becoming standard issue in the shopping centre industry.

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

Last year the centre began shutting its doors earlier in an attempt to protect staff after some were “physically assaulted”.

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