Anti-riot shields are used by special event security, tactical police forces, corrections officers, crisis response forces, rapid response forces (QRF), chaos control forces, and general security contracting companies. Outside of prison cells, anti-riot shields are almost always used for defensive purposes to protect the public in unstable situations. Their clear design gives them an unobstructed view and provides an instant assessment of the situation.
These shields are always used in conjunction with other vandal or protective gear. While tactics may vary, shields can block or deflect threatening objects and people. Shields are usually carried with one hand and the other hand empty. For example, Brazilian riot police are equipped with riot protective gear when escorting referees away from the arena.
Unfortunately, some overzealous thugs often bring their own riot shields. They use knockoff airsoft riot shields, or make shields out of wood or scrap metal that can be used against police or other thugs if things get out of hand. In some cases, the riot or crowd control threat was short-lived and known in advance. For example, rowdy football fans have been known to throw bottles and other objects (including coins, batteries and even flares) at players, referees or security guards from a distance. While these conditions are sure to escalate, they are mostly short-lived and don't leave people under constant attack.
Anti-riot shields can have a short lifespan depending on what is thrown at them or how they are affected. Generally, it's a good idea to replace the shield after heavy use during a riot or after storage for more than 3 to 5 years. If the user sees cracks or chips in them, or if they seem to have lost their flexibility, then you should consider replacing them.
Due to differences in shields, service life will vary. Different manufacturers offer different warranties on their shields. This will depend on the manufacturer, shield construction and damage suffered. Riot shields can last indefinitely if stored properly and with minimal damage. That said, several manufacturers of riot shields say that under normal use, under the right conditions, these shields will last between 3 and 5 years. It is important for users to inspect their shields annually to ensure that no damage has been done to the shields during storage in order to prepare them for deployment.