London’s “anti-homeless spikes” attract criticism from Boris Johnson

London’s “anti-homeless spikes” attract criticism from Boris Johnson
London’s “anti-homeless spikes” attract criticism from Boris Johnson

Metal studs installed in an alcove at the entrance of a block of London residential flats have been described as “ugly, self defeating and stupid” by Mayor Boris Johnson.

The so called “anti-homeless” spikes have attracted widespread criticism after a picture of the spikes was posted on Facebook and distributed on Twitter. An online petition to remove the spikes has been launched, with 108,449 signatures gathered so far. 

According to the petition, the Southwark building in question is managed by Property Partners. London journalism student Nathan Fitzpatrick visited the building, reporting over Twitter that he spoke to some of the building’s residents. The unnamed residents told Fitzpatrick that the spikes had been installed in “the past three to four weeks”, while Fitzpatrick noted that none of the residents he spoke to had been consulted about the spikes.

Johnson rebuked the spikes and urged the developer to remove them (although it has been noted elsewhere that it was not the building’s developers who installed the spikes).

“Spikes outside Southwark housing development to deter rough sleeping are ugly, self defeating & stupid. Developer should remove them ASAP,” Johnston tweeted earlier this week

“We've spent £34m on the likes of 'no 2nd night out, reaching 3/4s of rough sleepers, but must do more. Spikes are simply not the answer.”

However, Buzzfeed has noted that these are not London’s first “anti-homeless” spikes, with reports of spikes appearing as early as 1994

London’s “anti-homeless spikes” attract criticism from Boris Johnson

Source: Andrew Horton via Facebook 

Despite the public outcry against the spikes, they have been defended by some, including one nursing student who claims that “sometimes you have to remove a person’s sleep site in order to engage that person” and prevent further risks to their health that come with rough sleeping.

“That’s why they’ve put the spikes there. Or made the benches single. Or too narrow to sleep on. Look around you. These measures are in place all over London.”

In a widely shared blog post, the student urges readers to worry instead about wider societal issues that contribute to people sleeping rough in the first place.

“If you’re worried about the spikes maybe instead you could worry about the housing shortage, or the lack of good mental health and drug and alcohol services in your area. Worry about how your local area is dealing with antisocial behaviour. Worry about children’s services, worry about decent homeless liaison teams in hospitals. Worry about the lack of shelters. Worry about the benefit cuts,” she writes.

As for the Southwark spikes, they have since been turned into an anti-Boris Johnson protest.

London’s “anti-homeless spikes” attract criticism from Boris Johnson

Two plants have been placed on the spikes, along with a note that reads:

“13% INCREASE IN HOMELESSNESS UNDER BORIS AWARENESS GARDEN

ALSO A CARBON SINK” 

Have you seen any anti-homeless spikes where you live? How do you think the practice would be received in Australia? 

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