Stab-resistant vests reply to 'knife carrying'

A Shannon-based security company believes a developing national "knife culture" is behind a recent increase in interest in stab-resistant vests.

Trojan Security consultant John Portis said the culture had been developing for some time, where people were leaving home armed with some kind of "sharp" or knife, either in fear they could be assaulted or with the intent of assaulting someone else.

"A knife is one of those things that usually comes without warning and a knife can cause a lot of damage."

Trojan Security joins other companies, including New Plymouth firm CERT Systems recently quoted in the Taranaki Daily News, in seeing an increase in interest in stab-resistant vests from the likes of security staff and animal control handlers.

"I would have to say sales have probably gone up; I used to sell one or two every now and again, but it has gone up a lot more, even on the different types we've brought in."

Horowhenua District Council environmental services manager Tony Thomas said the council kitted out animal control officers with four stab-resistant vests about 18 months ago.

They were purchased primarily for cases when staff were required to assist police in operations where they were required to secure dogs on a property.

They had the added value of protecting staff against dog bites, he said.

Palmerston North City Council's animal control team had long had stab-resistant vests, principal environmental health officer Pita Kinaston said.

They'd had the vests for at least five years, and had discretion to use them if they thought they could be going to a high-risk situation, or when called to work with police.

CD Security director Reuben Takarua said his firm did not use stab-resistant vests, but had looked into them in the past.

The cost of the vests, which can reach into the thousands, was prohibitive and security guards instead relied on their training to disarm people in potentially dangerous situations.

He agreed there was a culture of knife carrying in New Zealand, and said there had been an increase in two years of people attempting to carry weapons into clubs.

Prior to that, it had mostly been "street kids" who were underage who had tried to get into bars while concealing weapons. "The ones that concern us is the ones that arm themselves before they come out."

However, he did not believe the vests were necessary - yet.

"I don't think we're at the stage that warrants it just yet; it's something we do feel will be necessary in the future. Society is not getting any nicer."

Manawatu Standard