‘Homeless spikes’ row: Boris Johnson calls for ‘stupid’ spikes to be removed but faces criticism over own record on rough sleepers

London Mayor says ‘spikes are simply not the answer’ – yet under his tenure number of homeless has more than doubled in two years

Boris Johnson has called for the removal of “stupid” spikes installed outside a London housing development as a deterrent to homeless people – prompting immediate criticism of his own record on people sleeping rough in the capital.

The spikes have been compared to similar measures used to keep pigeons off roofs and statues across London, and criticised in an online petition as “sending [homeless people] the message that they are pests that need to be warded off”.

The Mayor’s interjection came after the petition on change.org, signed by more than 6,000 people, called for him to “do more to help these people instead of isolating them further” and “support the silent population”.

Yet in condemning the actions of the developers, Mr Johnson faced accusations that he is dodging the blame for the root cause of the problem.

Despite the Mayor’s pledge when he came to power to eradicate homelessness in the capital altogether by 2012, Government figures released in December 2013 showed that the number of rough sleepers in London was actually up 60 per cent over the previous two years.

Mr Johnson tweeted today: “Spikes outside Southwark housing development to deter rough sleeping are ugly, self defeating and stupid. Developer should remove them ASAP.”

London Mayor Boris Johnson said the spikes were 'stupid' and should be removed London Mayor Boris Johnson said the spikes were 'stupid' and should be removed But the Mayor’s followers responded by calling for him to come up with his own “solution to the problem” and “make a real plan to help homeless people in London”.

Spikes to deter homeless people are not a new phenomenon in the capital – and 20 years ago pressure was put on officials to “make adequate response to the increasing problem”.

One blogger who said she works with homeless services said that while the spikes were “not a nice thing” they at least encouraged people to get help.

“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,” the anonymous student nurse wrote.

“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.”

Katherine Sacks-Jones, the head of policy and campaigns at homelessness charity Crisis, condemned the spikes but called on more to be done to deal with the “cause” of the problem.

She 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.”

A spokesperson for Southwark Council said it had not implemented the studs, and had never used such a system to deter homeless people from sleeping in similar areas.

On Twitter, Southwark Council leader Peter John said: “All homeless people in Southwark should be treated with respect and compassion – not spikes. I hope they will be removed from Southwark Bridge Road.”

A statement from the Mayor’s office said: “The Mayor has invested over £34 million in schemes to tackle the issue, like No Second Night Out, resulting in three-quarters of rough sleepers only spending one night on the streets. He will continue to work alongside the government, boroughs and key agencies to reach people in need of support.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
tvGame of Thrones season 5 ep 4, review - WARNING: contains major spoiliers!
News
Tottenham legend Jimmy Greaves has defended fans use of the word 'Yid'
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West, performing in New York last week, has been the subject of controversy as rock's traditional headline slot at Glastonbury is lost once again
music
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living