Tenants praise CCTV systems at city tower blocks

thisisoxfordshire: Richard Webb with one of the cameras at Windrush Tower Richard Webb with one of the cameras at Windrush Tower

FAMILIES living in high-rise tower blocks in Oxford say new CCTV cameras have made them feel safer.

Oxford City Council spent £110,000 to install security cameras at Evenlode and Windrush towers, in Blackbird Leys, and at Plowman Tower in Marston, to deter vandalism and antisocial behaviour.

The 20 cameras are positioned in the lifts and around the tower entrances.

Residents claim the CCTV system is making a difference to their lives, and the council said it had noted positive feedback from people in the three months since the cameras were turned on.

A formal survey is planned for the end of the month.

Richard Webb, 36, who lives on the 11th floor of Windrush Tower, in Knights Road, said: “They have made a difference.

“We don’t get any trouble like we used to. We don’t get litter in the lifts and people doing things like vandalism.

“It’s keeping control of those things, and people are more aware of what they’re doing.”

Robert Lewis, 30, who lives on the 11th floor of Evenlode Tower, said: “I feel safer knowing they are there.”

Mother-of-four Tanya Hutchinson, 32, who lives on the sixth floor of the same block, said: “I think they’re good.

“We did have a spate of people’s dogs – and children – weeing in the lifts and you don’t see that any more.”

Cyril Beavon, 72, who has lived in Plowman Tower for almost 40 years, said: “They have done us a big service.

“The lifts are cleaner, we don’t get the rubbish thrown in there and we don’t get the spitting like we used to.”

The security boost followed a six-month trial, where six cameras were fitted at Foresters Tower, in Wood Farm, after residents complained of antisocial behaviour.

Councillors are yet to decide whether to install CCTV at Hockmore Tower, in Cowley, because of its position above Templars Square shopping centre.

A city council spokesman said: “The estate manager team have had a number of residents give positive feedback as to the impact of the cameras.

“We have already investigated a few cases where individuals have got into the tower blocks and caused antisocial behaviour, including one case where the individuals were identified and were spoken to with their parents by the estate manager and a police officer.

“The result from this was that the antisocial behaviour ceased immediately.”

Joe McManners, the council’s executive member for housing, said that he was pleased with residents’ positive response to the system.

Leys neighbourhood police officer Sgt Rob Axe said: “The cameras are useful for us and it’s also good protection for residents as well. It prevents criminal damage.”

The tower blocks, which were built in the mid-1960s, currently provide homes for about 350 families.

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