Council tenants have demanded to have locks fitted on their flat block after vandals walked in and daubed racist graffiti on the walls.

Residents of the buildings in Walton Bank in Coldean, Brighton, said they were terrified of being attacked after seeing slogans believed to be linked to white supremacist groups spray painted near their front doors.

Ted Harman, chairman of the Coldean Resident's Association, said: "It is disgraceful. There is an Asian lady who lives in one of the flats with her two young children and she is petrified that something worse is going to happen."

The graffiti was painted on Wednesday last week. Some residents said they saw a man walk into the building around the time the damage was done, at 2.30am.

A neighbour said: "He was stalking around in the front garden and the back garden and was punching all the time, shadow-boxing with the air."

The police were called but when they arrived there was no sign of the man.

On Thursday morning residents discovered the graffiti, which was written in black spray paint. In the afternoon more in the same style was discovered in nearby Ashburnham Drive.

Sussex Police said it had found a discarded spray-paint can and would be examining it for fingerprints or other identifying marks.

Mr Harman said the residents in Walton Bank wanted something done.

He said: "They feel like anyone can just come in and do what they like in the building. They are not happy about it and want something done."

He said there had not been much vandalism in the Coldean estate recently.

Mr Harman said: "We have done a lot of work to stop anti-social behaviour here and it has been very effective so far. This does not happen a lot but it is very disturbing."

Brighton and Hove City Council said it removed the graffiti within three hours of being notified it was there by Pat Hawkes, the councillor for the area.

It also removed four other similar tags nearby.

A council spokesman said this was the first time an incident of this sort has been reported in the block.

He said: "Residents have requested locks for the building to prevent further intruders gaining access. But locks on their own cannot be fitted without a door entry system as this would restrict access to others who need to get in, such as friends and emergency services.

"We're working with residents to identify an appropriate door entry system and funds to fit one. But we cannot say at this stage when the work could be done as there is no spare budget to fund this work at the moment."