A COMPANY which supplies equipment to police forces has adapted its riot helmets to aid the coronavirus response.

Michael Lupton formed MLA Ltd in 1993 and has a team of 30 which designs, manufactures and supplies public order equipment to police forces and prison services across the world. When the pandemic struck, they looked at new projects in a bid to keep everyone at work.

“Whilst we had a full order book and were still busy making and selling core products there simply wasn’t the same level of enquires from the police in relation to product development for our design team,” said Michael.

They decided to simplify their riot helmets to make face shields for sale to the public, including builders, dentists, hair dressers and teachers.

Michael said they discovered a company which would coat the polycarbonate face shields in MicroGuard, to give enhanced protection against microbial contamination.

A former York police detective, Michael said they were now looking at their other equipment which could be adapted for the private sector.

The face shield, made from lightweight yet robust polycarbonate, can be wiped and used multiple times. It is abrasion resistant with soft foam blocks which allows airflow and prevents misting.

MLA has recruited four people to help make the visors which have also given the designers a focus at a quieter time for them.

The company operates in Seaton Ross, near Pocklington, and Market Weighton. Most of its products are made in the UK either by the team or other British companies.

In 2016 they launched their own leather and canvas workshop with a team of designers, leather craftsmen and machinists to be able to focus more on design and development.

Michael said: “We have managed to keep everyone at work. We are a small company with limited space so we put our production team on a 24-hour shift system. Everyone stepped up to it. We needed everyone on board to do this.”

He added: “We have all had to learn how to deal with non-sector customers. That’s been the interesting part for us all and it has prompted us to consider online opportunities for other products. At the moment we don’t sell to the public.

“For years we have done a particular style of business which is quite safe in a very niche area. It has shown us what it is like for everyone else who is trading in the private sector and what they have to do to make that happen.”

Many MLA products have been developed as a result of a specific enquiry such as the Trust Jacket, developed in conjunction with a leading police force.

Worn covertly, it offers officers protection against blunt trauma using D30 technology, a thin material which gives the highest level of protect against impact. The same D30 technology was then used to incorporate a metatarsal guard into our Defender boot reducing the need for adding extra protective equipment.

To buy a face shield visit www.mlauniversal.co.uk.