'Homeless spikes' outside London flats spark outrage on Twitter

Metal studs outside a block of flats have been criticised across social media

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The Independent Online

Metal spikes many believe have been installed to deter homeless people from sleeping in an alcove outside a block of flats in London have sparked outrage on Twitter, after pictures of the building went viral.

Andrew Horton, 33, of Woking, Surrey, took a picture of the studs outside of the block of privately-owned flats on Southwark Bridge Road in the borough of Southwark as he walked to work on Wednesday.

Mr Horton told The Telegraph he believed the studs have been put in place to prevent homeless people from sleeping there.

"I can't say for certain but it certainly looked like they were placed there to deter homeless people. It's dreadful.”

The picture has been circulating rapidly across social media, with many expressing their disgust and outrage at the studs.

User @CraigMcVegas described them as "barbarism", adding: "A society should be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable." David Wells compared them to spikes used to prevent pigeons from resting on buildings, tweeting: "the destitute now considered vermin".

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.

Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council said: "Southwark Council is aware of concerns raised regarding the installation of spikes outside a privately owned building in Southwark Bridge Road to prevent rough sleeping.

"The council can look into any health and safety or planning concerns that are reported to us. With regards to people sleeping rough, the council has a dedicated officer who works closely with organisations like St Mungos, who have a no second night out policy, to ensure rough sleepers are found shelter and support."

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."