Stab-proof vests being bought for kids

THE mother of a man who was knifed to death in Colchester has spoken of her sadness after it was revealed that 50 stab proof jackets had been sold to worried parents by an Essex-based firm.

By Annie Davidson

THE mother of a man who was knifed to death in Colchester has spoken of her sadness after it was revealed that 50 stab proof jackets had been sold to worried parents by an Essex-based firm.

Ann Oakes-Odger lost her son, Westley Odger, in September 2005 when he was stabbed in an unprovoked attack at a cashpoint in broad daylight.

Yesterday it was revealed children were being sent to school wearing body armour by parents worried about street violence.


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Vestguard UK, based in Tolleshunt Knights, which supplies stab-proof and bullet-proof vests around the world has sold 50 jackets to parents this year, costing between £250 and £450.

VestGuard UK said it had received around 100 telephone calls since Christmas from parents inquiring about body armour for children when it used to get one or two such calls a year.

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Shaun Ward, sales director for the Essex-based firm, said: “Certainly normally in a year we would have one or two phone calls where parents feel they are under threat and they have bought body armour for their children just in case something should happen, whether because of a domestic or a business problem.

“But since Christmas, we have had around 100 telephone calls where parents are only interested in body armour for their children because of the dangers of them travelling to school or the dangers of them being at school.”

He said that on occasions parents were ringing because their children had encountered knife-wielding gangs on their way home.

“Often parents are phoning us as a completely last resort and pouring their hearts out asking us 'What can we possibly do?'

“On one or two occasions I have said to parents 'Can't you send your kids to relatives or pack your bags and move?”

Mrs Oakes-Odger, of Highwoods, Colchester, said: “I feel very sad to hear that parents are so concerned that they are prepared to go to these lengths.

“It is tragic to hear, to be honest but I can understand parents' concerns.”

The company sells body armour to the Ministry of Defence, police, Foreign Office, embassy protection teams and specialist police units around the world.

Mrs Oakes-Odger said concerned parents could contact her through her website - www.knifecrimes.org - and she would also be able to put them in touch with an Essex Police school safety officer.

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