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Security risk prompts calls for body vest

AAP logoAAP 9/01/2017 Andi Yu

The increasing risk of terrorism and gun crime in Sydney means the law preventing private security contractors from wearing body armour vests needs to change, the head of a security firm says.

Nigel Walters of TCB Security Professionals recently lost a legal bid in May last year to get a permit for his staff to wear ballistic vests when protecting clients, especially news crews, at dangerous crime scenes.

Walters then went to the Civil and Administrative Tribunal late last year, arguing his men had been in grave danger protecting a Ten Network crew covering the shooting of NSW police accountant Curtis Cheng in October 2015.

He told the tribunal that his staff were "completely unprotected" in the line of fire compared to nearby police officers wearing full armour and riot gear.

His application for a permit for the vests, which are listed under the Weapons Prohibition Act, was unsuccessful at the tribunal in December.

Mr Walters has been in the security industry for 25 years and has never had a staff member shot or stabbed on the job, but he told AAP the security landscape is changing.

"It's getting more and more dangerous out there," he said on Monday.

"Just take a look around.

"Any person could see that the world is becoming a lot more harsh in terms of security."

Mr Walters said the first thing he hears when he tunes into news each morning is someone's been shot.

"I need to look after my staff. I want them to go home to their families.

"Tell me how does a ballistic vest kill, maim or injure?"

He said his application for a vest permit would never go through without the law being changed.

The denier of the application, the Commissioner of NSW Police, told the tribunal that body armour vests have never been issued to security companies other than for firms performing armed cash-in-transit operations.

The commissioner said body armour vests remained prohibited under the weapons act because of the risk of the wearer being more willing to put themselves in harm's way and the potential for criminals to get hold of the vests to evade police bullets.

"There can be no denying that Australia is also at risk of a terrorist event involving multiple simultaneous attacks such as those recently experienced in France," the tribunal wrote.

However, in present circumstances in NSW, such an attack warranting private security guards to wear body armour vests remained "a hypothetical", Mr Geoffrey Dennis de Quincey wrote.

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