TOURIST guides in a sleepy British market town have been given stab vests to wear – despite fuming locals claiming visitors will be put off.
The information officers were handed the protective gear as well as bodycams and radios to tackle anti-social behaviour in King’s Lynn.
So-called “street rangers” are supposed to provide directions and give tourists flocking to the market town information – but the protective body armour has sparked outrage.
Furious locals at the Norfolk town, which is loved by Kate Middleton as it’s close to her family home Anmer Hall, say the stab vests make the area a “no-go zone”.
Marcus Hopkins wrote on Facebook: “At least hide the vests under other garments, it makes the town look like a no-go zone (which it is not).”
Another critic posted an image from the film Hot Fuzz, which shows Simon Pegg and Nick Frost in protective vests against an exploding backdrop.
‘PEOPLE HAVE NO QUALMS ABOUT STABBING SOMEONE’
Others have suggested the vests are needed as Britain attempts to tackle its rising knife crime epidemic – despite West Norfolk having considerably lower statistics than the rest of the country.
Local musician Gary Smith, 53, said: “The town rangers are needed as you rarely see the police and you never see PCSOs any more because Norfolk got rid of them.”
He added: “There are people around who have no qualms about stabbing someone.”
The two street rangers were introduced in April but only recently began wearing the vests.
It follows the same move in other towns and cities in the UK – including Ipswich, Derby and York.
They are employed by Discover King’s Lynn – an organisation led by business leaders.
KNIFE CRIME EPIDEMIC
Scheme manager Vicky Etheridge said businesses asked officers to wear them “because they look more authoritative.”
While Melanie Ferguson-Allen, of private firm Partnerships for Better Business, said: “Just because someone wears a stab vest it doesn’t mean it’s a dangerous area.”
Alarming new figures released this week revealed knife crime is rising at a quicker rate in towns and cities outside London.
Figures obtained by the BBC show Manchester, Liverpool, Blackpool and Slough are more affected by knife crime than certain districts in the capital.
Other areas which make up the top 25 most dangerous places include Birmingham, Leeds, Nottingham and Reading.
In London, boroughs including Westminster, Hackney, Haringey, Newham, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets are more rife with incidents than in leafy boroughs on the outskirts.
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Incidents are less frequent in Richmond, Sutton, Bromley, Barnet and Merton – and are now being overtaken by other British cities.
In Lancashire, knife crime has doubled in the last five years after 981 incidents were reported in 2018.
Meanwhile, knife possession in Scotland continues to increase with figures showing more than 2,300 crimes were reported in 2018.