The General Directorate of the Civil Guard specified to the newspaper El Confidencial Digital the three-year plan to expand the provision of body armor. The plan consists of launching a multi-year purchase during 2021, 2022 and 2023. The result will be an acquisition to acquire a total of approximately 25000 body armor. Thus, in 2021 the Civil Guard will buy 8,400 vests, to then acquire again the same amount in 2022 and 2023.
The 25,000 new vests would be added to the 33,000 external citizen security vests that, according to the General Directorate, were purchased in the period between 2017 and 2020.
Incorporation of female body armor
The request from several associations to get female ballistic vests is finally been taken into account. Women in the military and police departments spoke up about the discomfort of working wearing a men-designed ballistic vest. Finally, the general director of the Civil Guard assured that the female civil guards will receive appropriate bulletproof vests, adapted to their anatomy.
The Government recently provided some information regarding this specific topic:
“Currently the department of the police has 52,956 protective vests; they acquired 9,081 of them during 2020. Out of that number, the female-designed vests are 17.22%. In 2021 the Civil Guard will acquire 7,882 more vests, with a percentage of female vests of 12.04%.
“Currently the Civil Guard has 43,626 external vests for men and 6,056 for women; as well as 5,604 inner jackets for men and 492 for women ”, you can read in the answer.
Problems in the distribution of the ballistic vests.
However, this sudden acquisition of body armor created some problems with the incorporation of the new materials into the system. The Independent Union of the Civil Guard approves the plan presented by the General Directorate to make each civil guard have their own vest. However, the Union remains sceptical about the efficiency of the plan. They point out that the rate of delivery of vests so far is slow, and there are provinces in Spain; in which only 25% of the vests have arrived and are being used.
In addition to the slow delivery, there was also the problem of expired vests:
Both the Union and the Association of Civil Guards recall that a few months ago batches of bulletproof vests that expired in December 2020 had to be withdrawn. In some units, the vests that were left (and therefore withdrawn), were already individually endowed. This means only one officer wore them. The new policy included a reconversion of the existent ballistic vests. In this way, when each work shift is over, the civil guards would pass each other the vests.
This created chaos in the body armor distribution, as the Spanish Association of Civil Guards explains. Because of this reconversion policy, they destinated more time and money to reconversion than to new vests distribution. They also point out the “nonsense” of vests reconversion, as an important batch of vests was going to expire.
Will this be enough?
Sources consulted point out that it is difficult to pin down the numbers, but with 58,000 vests it will be possible to protect practically all of the civil guards who are most exposed when carrying out patrol and citizen security tasks or static surveillance of buildings. The Civil Guard made other partial purchases; 300 high protection vests, 60 external high protection level III bulletproof vests and 800 external plate-holder bulletproof vests.
The latest known data reveal that the Civil Guard has about 78,500 agents. Not all of them need a bulletproof vest, since some units do not have their troops on the street, but rather investigating in offices, or patrol in plain clothes.
However, it is clear that much needs to be done, especially regarding the distribution and incorporation of body armor into the defence system of the county.