In a groundbreaking development for UK policing, standard issue body armour has been revamped with gender-specific designs, offering increased protection without compromising on wearing comfort. This is the first time in history that police officers across the United Kingdom will have access to body armour tailored to their individual body shapes.
Since the mid-1990s, body armour has been an essential part of the everyday police uniform, playing a crucial role in safeguarding officers and saving lives in various roles. Technological advancements and the availability of high-standard materials have continuously improved the protective capabilities of these vital gear pieces.
What was once perceived as heavy, uncomfortable, and unwieldy has undergone a remarkable transformation. The latest body armour iterations are now lighter, more flexible, and layered with extra protection. The year 2023, however, witnessed a truly groundbreaking advancement, as the body armour received male and female design variations, bringing it into the 21st century.
This simple yet significant design innovation promises to revolutionize the work environment for over 35 percent of officers in England and Wales, particularly benefiting female officers. Previously overlooked as a minor concern, gender-neutral body armour had considerable health and well-being implications for female police personnel.
Belinda Goodwin, a Metropolitan police officer, National Board Member, and Wellbeing lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), shared her personal experience with the body armour throughout her 20-year career. She highlighted the initial discomfort and the pressure exerted on her chest when wearing standard-issue male body armour. Belinda also disclosed developing a medical condition that raised concerns about the impact of the gear on her health.
Despite her challenges, Belinda persevered, as female-shaped body armour was previously only available to firearms officers. But now, with the launch of the 3rd generation body armour, this disparity has been addressed. The new designs are meticulously crafted to accommodate both male and female body shapes and sizes, representing a significant step forward in officer safety and comfort.
The latest body armour not only molds to the female body shape, regardless of chest size but also boasts a lighter weight while improving Supplementary Knife Resistance with increased knife protection. This comprehensive approach ensures that officers can focus on their duties with peace of mind, knowing that their safety is upheld without sacrificing comfort.
Belinda expressed her pride in contributing to the development of this innovative body armour. “We can never prioritize safety over comfort,” she said, “but in the 21st century, why can’t we have both? This is the best body armour we’ll see created for the next five years, at least.”
The introduction of gender-specific body armour represents a landmark achievement in police officer safety and well-being. As the UK police force continues to embrace advancements in technology and equipment, these changes reaffirm the commitment to ensure the highest level of protection and comfort for those who serve and protect the community.