The Independent London Newspaper
23rd May 2019

Studs to beat the homeless? Now Camden Council is attacked for benches designed to foil rough sleepers

    The 'Camden Bench' was designed, in part, to stop the homeless rough-sleeping on it

    Published: 20 June, 2014
    By TOM FOOT

    BENCHES designed to stop homeless people sleeping on them have been commissioned by Labour-run Camden Council.

    The “Camden Bench” – now to be found in Euston, Covent Garden and High Holborn – is part of a new wave of “street furniture” aiming to combat “urban challenges” posed by drug-takers, thieves and the homeless.

    Homeless charities this week condemned att­empts to “deter” people from public spaces in a week that saw a London-wide outcry over “anti-homeless spikes” outside shops and homes.

    Katharine Sacks-Jones, head of policy and campaigns at Crisis charity, said: “It is a scandal that anyone should sleep on the streets in 21st century Britain. 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 or new benches. Instead, we must deal with the ­causes.”

    Factory Furniture, designer of the “Camden Bench”, said on its website “the benches are designed to resist criminal or anti-social behaviour” and are “anti-rough sleeping” because “the shape makes it hard to sleep on them”.

    The “Camden Bench” also “deters” drug dealing because “there are no slots or crevices in which to hide such materials” and bag theft because a “recess along the front and back of the bench allows people to store bags behind their legs out of harm’s way”.

    The bench has been designed so that it is “difficult to skateboard on the edges”, which “fluctuate in height, making grinding difficult”. The concrete bench is graffiti-proof and will “reduce litter” because it has “no flat surfaces, slots or gaps where litter can accumulate”, according to Factory Furniture.

    Yesterday (Wednesday), people sitting on the bench eating lunch said they liked it. They felt it was not like putting spikes outside housing blocks and supermarkets, which they objected to.

    Bloggers have des­cribed the bench as an “anti-object”, a “non-object” and an “architectural null point” because it is defined by “what it is not rather than what it is”.

    Spikes outside a housing block in Southwark and another set outside Tesco’s Regent Street branch were removed last week.

    Camden previously came under fire for setting up CCTV cameras that barked orders at people on a Somers Town estate in the voice of the superhuman cyborg Robocop from the 1980s dystopian thriller. 

    Shopkeepers in Reg­ent’s Park have been criticised for scaring away groups of schoolchildren by using “Mosquito” devices which emit piercing sounds. 

    A council spokeswoman said the “Camden Bench” was being used in places where there were “concerns about introducing standard street benches”, adding: “There are no current plans to roll out these benches across the borough as such seating is not always needed and more traditional benches can be used where appropriate.”

     

    Comments

    new* design benches

    this is old news - these 'stone' benches have been there for a few years now. I dont like them and dont see many people sitting on them - lets go back to the old style

    mosquitoes

    I live on the Regent's Park Estate. I'm 33 and still have perfect hearing. That mosquito device has put me right off using the local shops. It's a shame as I'm exactly the type of affluent young consumer local shops need to attract, not drive away.

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