SECURITY guards and CCTV cameras are being deployed at an Oxford tower block to stop youths making residents' lives hell.

Oxford City Council is taking the drastic action after months of anti-social behaviour at Plowman Tower in Northway.

Residents have described intruders smashing doors, urinating in the stairwells and smoking in the corridors, leaving some afraid to leave their homes.

Fire crews and other emergency services rushed to the block in Westlands Drive on Monday, only to find the fire alarms had been triggered by youngsters smoking in the communal areas.

Paul Wiggins, who has lived in Plowman for 18 years, said he now couldn't wait to leave.

He said: "They aren't kids who live here, they come in from the estate.

"Groups follow people in through the front door. They run up and down the corridors, smashing things and breaking stuff.

"We still have building work going on at the top and they could cause some serious damage one day."

When the Oxford Mail visited on Friday afternoon, security guards were already positioned at the entrance to the tower block, checking who was coming in and out.

Police are also upping patrols in the area and a new CCTV system will be put in place in the new year.

Mike Rowley, Oxford City Council's board member for housing, said he was 'appalled' at the behaviour which he felt was putting residents in danger.

He said: “We have received reports of anti-social behaviour involving some individuals trying to access the tower block.

"Police are also aware of these incidents and are patrolling the area.

"We are appalled at the behaviour of these individuals who are not only causing damage to the building but are putting the lives of residents in danger, damaging door closers and essential fire safety installations.

"The council will be putting a new CCTV system in place and additional security improvements to both Plowman Tower and Foresters Tower.

"In the meantime, we have arranged for security guards to patrol both towers."

The council said the false alarm on Monday originated in the 15th and 16th floors of the tower.

After the smokers triggered the alarm, they tried to turn off the sound, causing a fault in the system.

Three fire engines raced to the scene and the tower block was evacuated with buses forced to divert from their usual routes.

A 71-year-old woman in the block, who didn't wish to give her name, said the situation was very difficult for her disabled husband.

She said: "He is one of many people who are disabled in the block.

"It's very difficult to get down the stairs when the lifts are out of order.

"We've had post boxes smashed up and doors vandalised.

"They come to the top floor and then run all the way down.

"It is a nuisance and it's upsetting for everybody."

She added: "I've told them to get out and they give me abuse back.

"They see it as a warm shelter on a cold night but they are violating our personal space.

"We've lived here 40 years and we never used to have these sorts of problems."

Another resident, Marcel Therborne, said he had recently come across a 'disorientated' young person in the corridor at 2am, clearly under the effects of cannabis.

The professional security guard said he had heard of a number of incidents of 'bullying' and was concerned for the safety of the residents with young children.

Mr Therborne showed the Oxford Mail a fire door on the eighth floor which he said was smashed in during an argument. He also said groups had broken down another door to get out onto the roof.

A 38-year-old father-of-three, who also lives in the tower block, said he had seen people 'urinating' in the corridors.

He said: "When there are a group of them, they are all trying to be brave.

"It can get quite intimidating.

"I've never had a specific problem but I've spoken to other residents who have tried to confront them and they have received a lot of shouty abuse back.

"It does reassure you that there are security guards now. Hopefully it will change things."