LTB 001/20 Post Office: National Agreement for Terms of Reference for the Trial of Body Armour Vests (Non-Ballistic)
2nd January 2020
POST OFFICE: NATIONAL AGREEMENT FOR TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR THE TRIAL OF BODY ARMOUR VESTS (NON-BALLISTIC)
I am pleased to report that the Postal Executive has unanimously endorsed the attached Terms of Reference for the trialling of Body Armour (in the form of vests) to be worn by our Crew members in Supply Chain, in the course of their duties when delivering and collecting money to and from the c.11,500 Post Offices spread across the UK.
Protecting our Crew Members
Our paramount aim must be to provide our members with the best possible protection. Our Crew members are seen as the primary professionals in this industry and consequently Loomis and G4S report considerably more attacks proportionate to their operation than the Post Office. Whilst obviously one attack on our members is one too many, thankfully we do not experience large numbers of attacks. We believe this is mainly due to the fact our members do not cut corners and leave themselves exposed and vulnerable to attacks, although where we do have attacks, these are concentrated in traditionally high risk areas.
It is unfortunately a regrettable fact that knife crime is on the increase in the UK and due to the nature of Crew members’ work there is no doubt an increased vulnerability. Therefore, the initiative of trialling Body Armour is welcomed.
The Postal Executive supports the main purposes of the trial which are as follows:
• act as a visual deterrent to criminals
• give added protection to Crew members when facing a knife attack
The Post Office’s 2018/19 Annual Report confirms our members’ safety is constantly monitored and investments in security are made where appropriate.
“We undertake a dynamic risk assessment, work closely with industry experts and bodies and have invested heavily in security related interventions to reduce the risk of attack and assault across the Network and Supply Chain.”
Terms of Reference – Key Features
The trial will commence in January and will last for two months. Crucially, the wearing of Body Armour during the trial will be restricted to volunteers only.
Trial objectives are to determine the suitability in respect of:
• Ease to wear whilst driving
• Ease of putting on
The Depots involved are:
The trial will involve a maximum of seven vests from three different suppliers with the aim of identifying which vest is best in terms of the criteria described above. Our Unit Rep in the London Depot, has indicated his willingness to participate in the trial which will also include a woman Crew member from Swansea.
Dave Joyce, National Health, Safety & Environment Officer will be working closely with Martin Hopcroft, Post Office Head of Health & Safety on the following key aspects regarding the wearing of Body Armour:
• A fit for purpose Risk Assessment
• Safe System of Work
• Standard Operating Procedures
• Plus the legally required Health and Safety information, instruction, supervision and training
Joint Review and Monitoring
Post Office and CWU will jointly monitor and review the trial and the success criteria will include all factors described above. We will naturally require good feedback from all volunteers as it is vitally important to gather as much information as possible arising from the experience of wearing the vests.
We have also raised directly with Nick Trowler, Head of Supply Chain Operations, a concern around wearing Body Armour vests during very hot weather. Clearly, trialling this equipment in January and February is not going to provide us with the experience of wearing the vest at times of acute heat. Nick Trowler is fully empathetic to this position and acknowledges and understands this area requires further joint consideration. He has therefore agreed this issue will remain under examination and discussion going forward.
To assist further deliberations, Nick has also proposed that we seek specific feedback and opinion about this issue from the volunteers involved in the trial. This position confirms the Post Office is willing to consider our representations on this matter. Without looking to pre-judge the trial outcome, I believe we should address the issue of hot weather as an integral part of any final Agreement for the use of Body Armour.
Next Steps & Communications
Mole Meade, Postal Executive member, has agreed to oversee the trial and will engage with management as appropriate. Mole will also liaise with Dave Joyce on H&S aspects and where necessary will be supported by our two full-time Supply Chain Representatives, both of whom regularly perform Health & Safety duties.
A Joint Statement, which is being published today, is attached to this LTB for your information.
The outcome of the trial will be reported to the Postal Executive. Additionally, in the event the Post Office proposes an extension to the trial or wider roll-out to high risk areas, this will also be subject to further decisions of the Postal Executive.