While the vast majority of us go to concerts, festivals, and other events to enjoy ourselves, certain individuals may well have ulterior motives for attending. People may not necessarily be looking for trouble when they book their tickets, but they can explode with (or even without) the slightest provocation.

At a UB40 concert at Rochester Castle in July 2014, a man was stabbed in the arm, after a fight broke out. A year earlier, in July 2013, two men were stabbed at London’s Wireless Festival, causing critical injuries. Such incidents are few and far between, as security teams typically patrol events and maintain order – but they should always be prepared for.

While attendees are clearly at risk if troublemakers become involved in fighting, security staff may also face danger when attempting to restrain & eject these people from the site. Many event security staff wear body armour to stay as safe as possible, but if you’re new to the job, how can you choose the right vest when there are so many available today?

Identifying the Threat: Finding the Right Armour 

Stab vests are generally the most common form of armour worn by security teams monitoring events, as the majority of violent incidents involve knives (which have been smuggled in, through even the tightest checkpoints), broken bottles, or other sharp objects.

Stab vests are usually made with Kevlar, a fibre which is woven into tight grids and then arranged into multiple layers: this material creates friction against blades, preventing them from tearing through. Whether a knife is used with a slashing or stabbing attack, these vests will keep the wearer safe – but only if it’s strong enough.

Body armour is created at varying levels, to offer a wide range of protection. While bullet proof vests have five, stab vests are available in three different levels only: these defend against specific amounts of energy used in attacks – the more force an assailant employs, the tougher a vest needs to be to stop it.

‘Generally, security staff should wear the highest level of stab vest available – this ensures they have protection against even the most ferocious assault.’ – Says a stab proof vest expert at SafeGuard Clothing

Visibility and Fit 

In the past, security personnel may have been put off wearing stab vests due to their size and bulk. Today, however, manufacturers produce armour that is lightweight and (in some cases) features temperature-control fabrics to help the wearer stay cool in warm climates and high-pressure situations.

Stab vests are available in covert and overt styles, to suit the individual requirements of a security worker. Some events may require a smart uniform (such as a VIP-heavy awards ceremony, or a corporate function), while others demand a high level of visibility as both a deterrent and a reassurance.

When required to wear smart clothing, security personnel cannot wear stab vests over their shirts and jackets – but covert designs are thin and lightweight enough to sit comfortably underneath other layers. Many covert vests feature breathable materials, which absorb sweat from the skin and disperse it throughout the rest of the armour, to cultivate a cooler body-temperature and maximise comfort.

Overt vests are still thin and lightweight, but designed to be worn over other layers. At music festivals, crowded gigs, and major public events, security teams may well choose to wear their stab vests over their uniform, to highlight the level of vigilance and preparation they’re taking towards maintaining order.

Ideally, stab vests should sit tight against the torso, and reach no lower than the navel area – if your vest is too big or too small, you may well still be exposed to harm (as blades can pass between gaps). Make sure you feel comfortable and have the full freedom of movement you need.