YOUR front page story (January 12) about crime in Shirley is a sad indictment of how policing in this country has been cut to the bone.

The thin blue line has become even thinner. So much so that it has almost disappeared.

I grew up in the Shirley area of Southampton and fondly remember when it had a vibrant shopping area, and it was safe and pleasant to walk along its streets.

I sympathise with businesses and residents who have to suffer on a daily basis anti-social behaviour which has been plaguing Shirley.

A major police presence was wiped out when Shirley police station was reduced to rubble. It is being replaced by a food store (as if we have not got enough already)

In its heyday the police station, in the heart of Shirley High Street, was open around the clock and it was easy just to pop in to the front desk and report a crime.

As can be seen from the soaring crime statistics, the current system of reporting a wrongdoing is totally inadequate and a response – mainly due to plunging police numbers – is not always guaranteed.

In the days that Shirley had a police station, there was also the reassuring sight of policemen pounding the beat and mingling with shoppers in a community friendly crime-preventive role.

Now the sight of a police officer is a fleeting one as they zip through the High Street on blue lights.

I have noticed over the last 10 years Shirley shopping centre has been in sad decline and is crying out for a major facelift.

The finger of blame should also be pointed at the city council whose lack of action has starved the suburban shopping area of investment which would attract new businesses, instead of relying solely on charity shops, and restore pride in this area.

Shirley’s decline also reflects the national decay which is fostering an underclass.