Communications director, Safeguard Armour

Author Bio ▼

Chris Taylor is communications director for Safeguard Armour, the Premium Body Armour Manufacturer and Supplier In The UK.
November 27, 2015

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Whitepaper: Effective Techniques for Robust OT Security

What Security Operatives Need to Know About Protective Clothing

tactical body armourFrom bullet-proof vests to ballistic helmets, body armour covers a wide range of protective clothing.

Even within each area there is much variation, as all items are available in different styles and at different levels of protection. It can therefore be difficult to know exactly whether your item will protect you from situation to situation.

The only way to properly know this is to understand exactly what is offered by the different products available. Security operatives (SOs) are required to perform a number of difficult duties, often in very hostile environments.

This is why it is so important they understand exactly how they can keep themselves safe with the help of body armour.

Covert versus overt protection

While working in security may mean performing in a number of different roles, one of the most common tasks an SO will find themselves performing is ‘close protection’. This may involve the physical guarding of a client, as well as the providing of a wide range of services.

Depending on the client’s wishes, this may be a very active role, thrusting the SO to the forefront of the client’s life, or a very discreet one, where the client wishes to almost forget that the SO is there. Whichever is true, protection is a must.

Fortunately, protective clothing is available in different styles each designed to offer benefits in different situations.

For example, if working for a prominent business leader and public figure, it may be that a distinctly more discreet service is needed than usual. This means that any protection must be as inconspicuous as possible.

Fortunately, all manner of protective vests are available in covert styles, designed to be worn comfortably underneath clothing.

On the other hand, there may be times where an SO will have to provide a visible service, such as in the guarding of a celebrity or public figure, yet this by no means the service should be less professional.

However, this role will mean that an overt vest is far more appropriate, as it still offers the same levels of protection, but also helps accentuate and display the Operative’s authority. Overt armour has the advantage of being customisable with logos and high-visibility covers, further increasing its usefulness.

ballistic helmets

Additional protection

Other situations will call for decidedly different protection. When working in particularly dangerous environments, the protection afforded by a soft Kevlar vest will not be sufficient.

If high powered weaponry or even armour-piercing ammunition is present, additional protection is needed. For example, Maritime Security is a rapidly growing industry and many SOs may find themselves protecting ships and defending them from pirate attacks.

Increasingly, piracy has involved high-calibre weapons and even explosives, and SOs need to protect themselves against this eventuality.

Overt tactical armour offers this level of protection, as it can protect areas like the throat and neck, while also accommodating rigid plates of ceramic and/or polyethylene. These plates offer protection against the strongest threats, and are still lightweight enough to be worn comfortably for extended periods.

However, the do bring additional weight and bulk, and so are only recommended for those who will truly need them.

On the other hand, SOs working in any kind of protective capacity may need additional protection not afforded by a bullet proof vest. For example, when guarding a property or perhaps working on the door, firearms may simply not be a realistic threat.

This is not to say that an SO will not be attacked, however, and it may still involved a weapon.

While Kevlar vests have the benefit of providing protection against any kind of impact, they cannot protect against edged or spiked weapons. This is because an edged weapon like a knife or broken bottle will simply cut through the protective fabric, while spiked weapons like needles and screwdrivers pass through the gaps in the fibres.

These weapons are not only more accessible than firearms, but can be just as deadly, and protecting against them should be something all SOs consider.

Stab and spike proof vests still utilise the fabrics found in ballistic protection, but with additional materials like chainmail and/or plastic laminate. These lightweight additions ensure that in close quarters in particular an Operative can stay safe against any encounter.

Body armour should be considered a vital piece of equipment for any security operative as the lightweight protection it offers is invaluable when working in dangerous environments like many SOs do.

However, choosing the wrong protective option can be counter-productive, and it is only by understanding the nuances of body armour that one can select the right protection.


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