An original translation by Tania Groth
(Please watch this site for a related post from German health institutes which are having the same problems)
Text under photo: One of the advantages of Elite armors bullet- and stab proof vests are, according to the manufacturer, that they are so discrete that they can be worn under a regular shirt so that they cannot be seen. Photographer: Ólafur Steinar Gestsson.
The fear of being attacked by one or more residents of one of the country’s detention centers is, according to the staff, apparently so great that more people want bullet- and stab proof vests. On Langeland, all of the five asylum centers have stab proof vests. A sign of defeat, says FOA (trade union).
Daily life has become so uncomfortable for some employees at the country’s asylum centers, that several have begun to demand bullet- and stab proof vests they can wear under their work clothes.
At Langeland Municipality, Asylum Holmegaard who operates 17 detention centers around the country, has had several inquiries from concerned employees. The center management has now purchased 10 bullet- and stab proof vests.
“Some employees have come forward because they sometimes have felt unsafe. There have been some verbal threats they have been concerned about which they feel could have led to action, “says Ulrik Pihl, Center Leader of Asylum Holmegaard. He emphasizes that the verbal threats have not yet, according to municipal information, developed into a perilous situations where a vest would have made a difference.
The 10 vests are currently distributed between the five asylum centers on Langeland. It is a kind of ‘pilot project’, says Ulrik Pihl, who expects that Holmegaards stock of vests soon will be increased so that they will be available at all municipal centers in the near future. Exactly how many vests will be located at each of the municipal centers is still unclear, but it will probably be between 2 and 4, which the employees then can use as needed.
Not for daily use
“It is not a question that we need to walk around with a vest on every day, for that is not where we are. It is to create a sense of security and provide a safe working environment and because we want to use that option should the staff need the extra security should they one day get into physical conflict” says the Center Director who stresses that he obviously hopes that the vests will never be necessary.
The vests can for example be useful in difficult conversations with residents who may be externalizing problems and act in a threatening manner, and where the staff feel that the talk could develop in a dangerous direction says Ulrik Pihl. He stresses, however, also several times:
“We do not in any way encourage our staff to take part in a physical conflict. We have to try to talk us out of it verbally and otherwise withdraw where it then becomes a police task. ”
At Funen Police, which covers a large part of the area where the Asylum Centre Holmegaards centers are located, there is no impression that threats to staff in the centers are overrepresented amongst police work.
“But it is not unnatural that the police have to be called when there are so many people in one place,” says communications consultant at Funen Police, Charlotte Nyborg.
Holmegaard stands alone in need of vests
A poll conducted by Berlingske Research conducted shows that the Asylum Centre Holmegaard is currently the only center that has invested in bullet- and stab proof vests. Berlingske has gathered information about 64 refugee centers, and none of the centers are aware that employees make use of vests in their work.
“It is not at all the experience we have at our centers – that this should be a particularly dangerous job,” says Lars Vestergaard, Press Officer for the nine detention centers, which are part of the Asylum Centre Vesthimmerland. The same message comes from the asylum camp in Thisted, where there was earlier in the month a mass brawl among residents