Page last updated at 14:14 GMT, Friday, 4 April 2008 15:14 UK

Bullet-proof hoodie to go on sale

Bullet-proof hoodie
The hoodies are made from a fibre called Dyneema

A bullet-proof hooded top designed to protect against street violence has been made by an east London firm.

The 300 "Defender" top will stop Magnum handgun bullets, according to the manufacturer Bladerunner, which also makes slash-proof vests.

Owner Barry Samms denied the hoodie was targeted at teenage gang members and said it was primarily aimed at US customers concerned about gun violence.

Mothers Against Murder and Aggression said it spread "the fear factor".

Lyn Costello, founder of the campaign group also known as Mamaa, said it sent out the wrong message.

We want to encourage them away from a life of violence not towards it
Lyn Costello, Mamaa

"I don't think it helps. It spreads the fear factor and makes teenagers think they are invincible.

"It disgusts me that companies think about money rather than the safety of our kids.

"We want to encourage them away from a life of violence not towards it."

A total of 11 teenagers have died as a result of violent crime in London since the start of the year.

Thinner material

The top is made from a fibre called Dyneema, which is thinner than the material used to make traditional bullet-proof vests.

Mr Samms, who owns the Romford firm, said he could only manufacture a hoodie because it was not possible to put a zip into bullet-proof material.

I don't see that there is much of a market in the UK, because luckily we have such strict gun laws
Barry Samms, Bladerunner

He said: "Adults wear hoodies too. My mum wears one and you don't see her hanging out on street corners.

"We really thought last year when we brought out the stab-proof top that they were going to be for teenagers, yet they are the last people to actually buy one."

He said a mother from Walthamstow, east London, whose son had been mugged three times, was among customers asking for bullet-proof clothing.

"We've had quite a lot of interest from the US and a couple of calls from the UK," he said.

"I don't see that there is much of a market in the UK, because luckily we have such strict gun laws.

"People don't have to go to such extremes to protect themselves over here."


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