Can anyone identify these spiders, my son has found 5 in his flat in the last 3 days and with all the talk of the false widow spider, I would like to be able to reassure him that these aren't from this family of spiders, he has two very small children and these spiders seem to be all coming out at once. Thank you for any reassurance you can give.
Indeed, there are a lot of these around at the minute, these are males no doubt wandering in search of a mate before winter comes & they die off.
Don't panic - they are false widows but Steatoda grossa (AKA cupboard spider). I personally have found 4 in my flat in the last few weeks. They are not the spider that is attributed with grabbing the headlines, which is Steatoda nobilis. S. nobilis are more often seen, even so they are not as dangerous as the papers would have you believe (they don't eat flesh, they don't live in nests, they don't prey on humans, they are not going to chew anyone's arm or leg off).
S. grossa is actually a very shy spider it is possible that your son & his family has lived with them for years without ever seeing them, they are easily spooked & prefer the dark. The males are more reckless in their search for a mate. They can bite and it is not pleasant (like wasp/bee sting), but note that many reports in the papers affect people who have not seen the culprit that bit them (asleep in bed at the time), or have lowered immunity (childhood leukemia sufferers), or have had problems arising from initially untreated secondary infections. Likelyhood of a bite is very, very low.
Nevertheless, if everyone would be happier with them out the house, do put them outside.