I grew up in Southampton’s Shirley area when it had a thriving and yob free shopping centre.

And I was saddened and appalled when I read the Daily Echo headline “Police launch crackdown on High Street yobs as traders claim it’s the worst it’s ever been.”

Traders and residents have spoken out about the 'terrible' anti-social behaviour in Shirley after police implemented a dispersal order.

The force issued the order for Shirley High Street as part of their on-going work to tackle anti-social behaviour in the area.

The order took place across two days and was implemented after 87 incidences of anti-social behaviour have been reported in the past five months in Shirley High Street.

I suppose I should not be surprised by these shock statistics. Although I do not live in the area anymore I still regularly visit the Shirley area for trips to my bank and building society.

Over the last 10 years I have noticed that there has been a rapid deterioration in this shopping area.

I can’t remember when I last saw a police officer walking along Shirley High Street. Now the police station, where people could once report crime, has been reduced to rubble to make way for yet another supermarket.

Without a permanent police presence yobs can roam free knowing that they are not going to get caught for their criminal and anti-social acts.

Shirley Recreation Ground was a safe and yob free playing haven for my brother and I when we were youngsters. In recent years the park has had a major makeover thanks to a cash injection from the National Lottery. Broken glass and repeated acts of vandalism is now undoing all that good work.

Reports about the waves of anti-social behaviour hitting this once fine Shirley shopping area come at a time when a report by the Home Affairs Committee says forces in England and Wales are "struggling to cope" amid falling police staff numbers and rising crime.

It says policing is at risk of becoming "irrelevant" as neighbourhood teams are stripped back and huge numbers of crimes go unsolved.

And it has accused the Home Office of a "complete failure of leadership".

The report warned there would be "dire consequences" for public safety without additional funding and urged policing to be prioritised in the government's Autumn Budget. It is a national disgrace that this thin blue line has been made thinner and there is a danger of it disappearing and leaving us with a completely lawless society.

Shirley is not alone in being the victim of anti social behaviour which is sweeping this nation. Murders, stabbings and muggings have become a daily occurence in streets across the land. It is part of the shameful decay which is eating away at our society and to which our political masters are turning a blind eye.

It would be nice to turn back the clock to when shopping areas like Shirley High Street filled us with pride and were safe. I fear that those halcyon days will never return while we have a government that is hellbent on a cost cutting philosophy which is destroying our communities.

A classic case of knowing the price of everything but the value of nothing.