According to a case worker working for St Giles Trust children as young as 15 are buying stab-proof vests such is the fear for their safety.
According to the Trust, which was set up to help young people involved in gang crime the youths that they are working with feel that carrying weapons and wearing protective clothing will give them greater protection. According to Bladerunner, who specialise in selling protective clothing, this philosophy is wrong on so many levels.
It is certainly true that knife crime in the UK has become a major problem, particularly in inner city areas. According to Lee Marks Managing Director of Bladerunner the company has noticed an increase in sales. Lee Marks was quoted as saying "Look, Bladerunner has been selling anti-slash and stab proof clothing for the last 22 years, for the last 12 under my management. Yes we have seen a large increase in sales. Would we suggest it is a good idea for a teenager to be buying our products? Absolutely not". Marks suggests that when confronted by someone with a knife the best strategy is to run. "Run as fast as you can to get out of the danger zone".
Bladerunner believe that wearing a stab-proof vest can actually make you a target because stab-proof vests are generally so thick that it is obvious that you are wearing one. If you are wearing a stab-proof vest you can actually make yourself a target because it may indicate that you are part of a gang, carrying drugs or, perhaps cash the proceeds of drug sales.
"Our experience is that if you are confronted by someone with a knife and you cannot run you are much better off defending yourself with a pair of slash-resistant gloves which would enable a victim to grab the knife by the blade and keep it away from your body, without damaging your hands."
Bladerunner also claim that buying a stab-proof or bullet-proof vest from E-bay, which according to the report is where they are buying them from, can be risky. "When you buy a vest from a private source it is best to ask to see a certificate showing the level of protection that item offers. Protection levels can deteriorate over time if the vest gets wet or washed incorrectly."
Knife crime for the whole of the UK is, according to the Office For National Statistics, at its highest level for 7 years.
Marks says that he finds it depressing to hear that teenagers as young as 15 may be buying from his website. "Bladerunner was originally set up to offer protective clothing to undercover Police Officers, security professionals and reporters travelling to dangerous countries, often war zones. We sell online and like most online companies we do not ask our customers to give us their age. It would be really sad if we found that teenagers were in need of our products. That is not what we were set up to do. If we can help keep someone safe then that is gratifying, but at the same time it would be nice to know that the youth of our country felt safe without having to wear our products".