'Anti-homeless' spikes installed outside flats to deter rough sleepers
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Communities
Lines of metal spikes have appeared in the concrete around the entrance to a London block of flats - in an apparent effort to drive away rough sleepers.
Pictures of the studs provoked an angry reaction on Twitter, with some claiming it meant that homeless people were being treated like vermin.
Homelessness charity St Mungo's Broadway has described the spikes as "brutal". Chief executive Howard Sinclair said: "Each year our teams, in Southwark and elsewhere, help thousands of people off the streets.
"Part of their role is to prevent people adopting a street lifestyle which, on occasions, means adapting the physical environment to prevent people sleeping rough in a particular location on a regular basis. These 'studs' appear a rather brutal way of doing just that.
"However, to undertake such measures without providing the necessary assistance to people who sleep rough is wrong - the aim is to help people move in, not just move on. Especially as the people we see have often suffered relationship breakdown, bereavement and many are coping with physical and mental health issues as well as homelessness."
Some Twitter users have defended the studs. Gavin Logan wrote: "There will be a context behind those anti-homeless spikes. Possibly a last resort against someone who was aggressive and refused housing."
London Assembly member Jenny has called on Boris Johnson to intervene and have the spikes removed, whilst also changing his approach to tackling the rising number of rough sleepers in London.
She said: “These spikes are an inhumane and callous reaction to a growing problem of rough sleeping under Boris Johnson’s watch. Instead of trying to deter people who are in a desperate situation, these building owners should be contacting homeless services to ensure anyone sleeping rough on their land is helped.
“I shall ask the mayor to contact the building owners about removing the spikes and linking up with his No Second Night Out initiative. He also needs to face up to the rising numbers of rough sleepers in London, and lobby for the housing and welfare safety net to be repaired. With such insecure tenancies, cuts to benefits and cuts to homeless services, more and more vulnerable people are ending up on our streets.”
Jacqui McCluskey, director of policy and communications for Homeless Link, the umbrella body of homeless charities said: “It’s shocking to see the use of metal spikes to discourage rough sleeping and hardly helps deal with the rising number of people who are forced to sleep on our streets.
“Many people who sleep rough just don’t know where to turn and are amongst the most vulnerable in our society. Sleeping on the streets is dangerous, bad for your health and individuals need support.
“This approach is not only inhumane, it does nothing to tackle the causes of rough sleeping and just moves the issue on for someone else to deal with."