Laura Clark, London Daily Mail, August 14, 2007
Parents are sending children to school in stab-proof uniforms to guard against knife crime, it has emerged.
They are paying a firm which makes body armour to line blazers and jumpers with a stab-resistant material called Kevlar.
The precautions are aimed at protecting pupils from knife attacks as street crime spills over into schools.
A wave of stabbings involving teenagers includes the killing of promising footballer Kiyan Prince, who was knifed just yards from his school gates in north London.
Kevlar is a synthetic fibre that can be spun into fabric five times stronger than steel and is used in armoured vests worn by British troops in Iraq.
Essex-based firm BladeRunner produces clothing lined with the material for police and security guards.
But inquiries from parents have now prompted it to modfify school uniforms.
Barry Samms, one of the firm’s directors, said the company initially produced stab-proof hooded tops that were bought by teenagers.
It was then asked by parents about the possibility of strengthening school uniforms with Kevlar.
The firm now offers to line blazers and jumpers with the material if pupils send in their uniforms.
Blazers cost £120 to stab-proof and jumpers £60 to £70.
“The blazers and jumpers have come on the back of the hooded tops which we launched in April,” said Mr Samms.
“Since then we had a small amount of parents contacting us and asking if we could do something similar with their kids’ uniforms so we have been modifying them for them.
“We have done blazers and jumpers—we have done about half a dozen so far. It’s something that we can do and it’s something we are offering.”
He said parents who had inquired about stab-proof clothing were genuinely fearful for their children’s safety.
He said: “From what I can gather and from speaking to parents it’s just peace of mind for them.
“I spoke to a lady yesterday whose son was mugged on a bus coming home from school. She has also got two daughters, but she always sends them to school with no money on them and no jewellery.”
Police chiefs said the precautions were an “extraordinary step”.
“The reality of course is that crimes involving knives are proportionately very very low” Alf Hitchcock, of the Association of Chief Police Officers told BBC News Online.
“But we do recognise some parents have that fear and some feel they need to go these steps.”
Seven boys under the age of 16 have died in knife attacks in the space of just two months this year.
Teachers are also demanding to be equipped with stab-proof vests to protect them from attack as they frisk pupils for knives and guns.
New laws which recently came into effect will allow staff to conduct forcible searches of students suspected of carrying offensive weapons.
But members of the Professional Association of Teachers are saying they should not be made to carry out searches unless they are provided with body armour.