UK police introduce gender-specific body armour

In a breakthrough for UK police, standard issue bulletproof vests have been redesigned to be gender specific, providing increased protection without compromising comfort. For the first time in history, officers across the UK will have access to custom made bulletproof vests.

Since the mid-1990s, bulletproof vests have become an essential part of everyday police uniforms and have played a vital role in keeping officers safe and saving lives across a range of missions. Advances in technology and the availability of high-quality materials continue to improve the protective capabilities of these critical pieces of equipment.

Once thought of as heavy, uncomfortable and cumbersome, bulletproof vests have undergone an incredible transformation. Modern bulletproof vests are lighter, more flexible and offer more protection. But in 2023, bulletproof vests have made a truly groundbreaking advancement, bringing them into the 21st century with a range of designs for men and women.

This simple yet significant design innovation is expected to revolutionise the working environment for over 35 per cent of police officers in England and Wales, particularly benefiting female officers. Until now, gender-neutral body armour has a profound impact on the health and wellbeing of female police officers.

Belinda Goodwin, a Metropolitan police officer, National Committee member and welfare lead for the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), shared her experience of wearing a bulletproof vest throughout her 20 years of service. She highlighted the initial discomfort and pressure on her chest when wearing the standard issue men’s bulletproof vest. She also revealed that she had developed an illness which raised concerns about the impact of bulletproof vests on her health.

Belinda persevered despite the difficulties, as female-style body armour had previously only been available for firearms officers. Third Generation Body Armorthis disparity has been eliminated. The new design is meticulously tailored to fit the body shapes and sizes of both men and women and represents a major step forward in officer safety and comfort.

Not only does the latest body armor fit a woman’s body type regardless of chest size, it also offers greater knife protection and improved secondary knife resistance while being lighter in weight. This comprehensive approach allows officers to focus on their duties with peace of mind, knowing their safety is guaranteed without sacrificing comfort.

Belinda said she was proud to have contributed to the development of this innovative bulletproof vest: “Safety cannot be prioritised over comfort, but in the 21st century, why can’t we have both? This will be the best bulletproof vest we’ll make for at least the next five years.”

The introduction of gender-specific bulletproof vests is a milestone achievement in police officer safety and wellbeing. UK police forces continually embrace advances in technology and equipment, and these changes reaffirm our commitment to ensuring the highest levels of protection and comfort for officers who serve and protect their communities.

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