‘Homeless spikes’ installed outside London flats
Pictures of the spikes were uploaded to Twitter on Saturday, provoking anger from users
By Anna Roberts
Metal spikes have been installed outside a block of luxury flats in London to deter homeless people from sleeping there.
But the installation of the studs has provoked criticism from some after a picture was uploaded to Twitter, the social networking site.
Users said the use of the studs meant homeless people were being treated the same way as pigeons, as similar metal spikes are used to deter them.
Andrew Horton, 33, of Woking, Surrey, took the picture of the inch long studs outside the flats on Southwark Bridge Road as he walked to work on Wednesday.
Mr Horton said: “I can’t say for certain but it certainly looked like they were placed there to deter homeless people.
David Wells said on Twitter: “These Anti homeless studs are like the spikes they use to keep pigeons off buildings. The destitute now considered vermin [sic].
The image was widely shared on Twitter (Andrew Horton/Twitter)
However, others defended the studs.
Gavin Logan said on Twitter: “There will be a context behind those anti-homeless spikes. Possibly a last resort against someone who was aggressive and refused housing.”
People living in the flats, which sell for upwards of £800,000, said the metal studs were installed two weeks ago after a number of homeless people were seen sleeping there.
One woman resident, who asked not to be named, said: “There was a homeless man asleep there about six weeks ago.
“Then about two weeks ago all of a sudden studs were put up outside.
“I presume it is to deter homeless people from sleeping there.”
A couple, who also asked to remain anonymous, added: “It’s because of the homeless.
“The spikes have only been there very recently, less than a month.”
A man looking around the flats, a ten-minute walk from Southwark Underground Station, said the spikes would not put him off.
The man, who only gave his name as Peter, a lawyer, said: “But would you want homeless people outside your door?”
Homelessness charities said the use of metal studs to prevent rough sleepers is widespread and they have been installed on ledges and in doorways for more than a decade.
Kathrine Stokes, 39, of Hull, East Yorkshire, photographed studs outside Tesco in Regent Street, London and uploaded the picture on Twitter.
She said: “It’s sad. It demonstrates a meaness and a lack of humanity for people.”
Katharine Sacks-Jones, head of policy and campaigns at homelessness charity Crisis, said: “It is a scandal that anyone should sleep on the streets in 21st century Britain. Yet over the last three years rough sleeping has risen steeply across the country and by a massive 75 per cent in London.
“Behind these numbers are real people struggling with a lack of housing, cuts to benefits and cuts to homelessness services to help them rebuild their lives.
“They might have suffered a relationship breakdown, a bereavement or domestic abuse. They deserve better than to be moved on to the next doorway along the street. We will never tackle rough sleeping with studs in the pavement. Instead we must deal with the causes.”
Tesco said the spikes outside its store in Regent Street were not intended to target those in need of shelter.
A Tesco spokesman said: “The studs were put in place to try and stop people engaging in anti-social behaviour like smoking or drinking outside our store, which can be intimidating for our customers.”
Councillor Peter John, leader of Southwark Council, said: “Southwark Council is aware of concerns raised regarding the installation of spikes outside a privately-owned building on Southwark Bridge Road to prevent rough sleeping.
“The council can look into health and safety or planning concerns that are reported to us.
“Without regards to people sleeping rough the council has a dedicated officer who works closely with organisations like St Mungo’s [a homelessness charity], who have a ‘no second night out’ policy to ensure rough sleepers are found shelter an support.”