There are many phrases that you would not expect to hear in life, and “anti-homeless spikes” is one of them.
A bank in India has reversed its decision to install anti-homeless spikes at one of their branch locations after a Tweeted image of the device created a social media backlash.
The image portrayed multiple rows of several inch high spikes, made of iron, erected outside of an HDFC Bank with what looks to be fairly sharp tips. The concept is to make the area as uncomfortable as possible to discourage the homeless from camping or sleeping outside of the bank.
Simon Mundy, of the Financial Times, posted the image along with a caption that read:
“An eyecatching response to Mumbai’s homelessness crisis from
@HDFC_Bank (Fort branch)”
A Twitter firestorm was created in which people were expressing how dangerous the spikes looked. Many commented on the possibility of an individual falling or even being pushed onto the spikes and causing severe bodily harm.
Some tried defending the anti-homeless spikes as no different than protecting one’s property with a fence or wall with barbed wire at the top. They also pointed out that this was done on the bank’s private property and not on a public walkway.
While this is true, the difference between a barbed wire-tipped wall or fence and the spikes is that a person will have a difficult time falling on top of a wall or fence, but a simple loss of balance could cause a person to fall onto the spikes.
Other defenders of the spikes pointed to a similar homeless deterrent that had been tried outside of luxury flats in London.
The difference there is that the “spikes” were rounded at the top and they were no more than a couple inches high. In other words, if you were to fall on them, you likely would not lose your life or cause serious damage to your body, but they would still be uncomfortable enough that the homeless might not enjoy sitting or laying on them.
After the social media backlash, HDFC issued a statement in which they announced that the spikes were coming down. Though they were legal, the statement points out, they were still a possible “inconvenience” to passers-by:
“We sincerely regret the inconvenience caused to the public by the installation of the spikes at our Fort branch as part of the recent renovation carried out there. While the installation is legal, we should have been conscious of the possibility of inconvenience to passers-by, especially children and elderly.”
Do you think the bank was wrong to have installed the spikes in the first place? What are some alternatives that you can come up with that would humanely deter the homeless from camping outside of the Indian bank?