Police get protective vests

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NORTHUMBRIA yesterday became the first police force in the country to allow all its officers to wear bullet- and blade-proof vests beneath their uniforms, writes Malcolm Pithers.

The move was prompted by the rising level of violence against the police in the North-east. After Sgt Bill Forth was stabbed to death in Gateshead last February, his widow, Gill, led a campaign for more protection for officers. She said yesterday: 'If Bill had been wearing one of these vests I think he would still be with me. They could mean the difference between hospital and the grave.' The force is to buy 600 of the protective vests, at a cost of about pounds 145,000.