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First spikes: now it’s cages

November 03 2014

Students “disgusted and ashamed” that Cardiff University has installed cages over air vents to prevent homeless people from keeping warm

Cardiff University has installed cages over warm air vents surrounding its building to prevent homeless people sleeping beside them to keep warm.

But students have come out saying they are disgusted by the cages and that they make them feel “disgusted and ashamed”.

Writing on his blog last month, Cardiff University student Lewis Hopkins said: “I had noticed the winter before that these vents bellowed out a comforting pocket of warm air, which from time to time was occupied by homeless people. They never caused any trouble, never littered or gathered in groups. They were just content with finding a warm place to sleep at night.”

Third-year Cardiff University journalism student Morgan Towler told the Daily Mail: “Surely sleeping in freezing cold and soaking wet conditions during the winter will cause more harm than the steam from the vent ever could. We should be helping these people in any way possible.”

However, Cardiff University said that the cages were installed for health and safety reasons.

“The area covered by the safety grilles are not hot air vents but boiler flue vents that could potentially produce products of combustion – diluted amounts of carbon monoxide being one of these – as part of the diluted boiler flue gases,” a spokesman from Cardiff University said.

The cages seem part of a trend to put things in place to stop people sleeping rough. Last June, spikes were placed outside an upmarket apartment block in the city of London, a move that the London mayor Boris Johnson has distanced himself from. A few months later, grilles were also placed over hot air vents in a lane off a Glasgow city centre street. A self-styled vigilante later removed them.