A furious row has erupted after inch-high studs were installed outside a luxury flat compound in the London district of Borough, to deter homeless people from sleeping rough there.
Protesters claim that the spikes, built by the entrance to the privately owned group of flats in Southwark Bridge Road, effectively treat homeless people as "vermin".
"These Anti homeless studs are like the spikes they use to keep pigeons off buildings. The destitute [are] now considered vermin," one commentator, David Wells, said on Twitter, in an angry missive re-tweeted 97 times.
A woman resident at the building who wished to remain anonymous said the spikes appeared there around two weeks ago.
“There was a homeless man asleep there about six weeks ago...," she told the Telegraph. "I presume it is to deter homeless people from sleeping there."
But one potential buyer who was looking around the flats, which sell for around £800,000 upwards, told the newspaper that the spikes would not put him off. "Would you want homeless people outside your door?" he asked.
The spikes outside the flat on Southwark Bridge Road - Image: Andrew Horton/ @worldviewmedia
Katharine Sacks-Jones, of homelessness charity Crisis, said the spikes demonstrated "a mean-ness and a lack of humanity for people."
"We will never tackle rough sleeping with studs in the pavement. Instead we must deal with the causes," she said.
London mayor Boris Johnson tweeted his disgust over the spikes today, after a petition launched to remove them attracted over 8,000 signatures.
"Spikes outside Southwark housing development to deter rough sleeping are ugly, self defeating & stupid. Developer should remove them ASAP," Johnson said.
A homeless woman begs for money in London
Southwark council said it would look into the issue but any action it could take would depend on whether the building management had infringed on planning regulations.
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."
The reaction to homeless spikes on Twitter
Spikes outside Southwark housing development to deter rough sleeping are ugly, self defeating & stupid. Developer should remove them ASAP.— Boris Johnson (@MayorofLondon) June 9, 2014
Homeless spikes are medieval, whoever thought up that atrocity should be forced to lie on them with homeless people jumping on them— simon day (@simonday24) June 9, 2014
Spikes or no spikes, cities where homeless people can't sleep on the pavement or use a public bathroom are also torture chambers.— Aaron Bady (@zunguzungu) June 7, 2014
The controversial scheme does have support from some residents in the building and beyond.
"I think they [the studs] are a very good idea," one resident, Mark Hicks, told the Daily Mail. "We used to come back and find drunk homeless people in the doorway, which is not very nice at all. If it stops that, it’s great."
"I have female friends in the building who are scared to come home at night because they have been intimidated and threatened by homeless people in the doorway," another anonymous resident added. "It’s about time something has been done about this. In any case, they aren’t really spikes - they’re not sharp. I’m sure someone could put a blanket over them and sleep here if they wanted to."
"If someone used your back door as a bedroom /toilet, you would want spikes too," noted Katie Hopkins, as she prepared to debate the issue on BBC News.
What do you think? Are anti-homeless spikes inhumane or a necessary measure? Let us know on Twitter @StylistMagazine or in the comments section below.
Photos: Rex Features and Sky News