MARTIN Field, an ex-policeman, is surely right when he bemoans the lack of contact between the police and the public (Step too far reduces vital police contact, Letters, August 21).

Unfortunately, things are worse than the simple result of a lack of contact. It has to be assumed that a conscious decision was made several decades ago to change the whole concept of policing from being that carried out by a police 'force', to being no more than a 'service' provided by policemen/women. 

In my view the idea of preventing crime by the expedient of a proactive police force, has now been superceded by a police service that does little more than mop up after the event.

The increasing acts of violence, rudeness, bad manners and general anti-social behaviour is not helped by the fact that at least two generations have grown up without ever seeing the uniformed face of our defenders of the law, ie police officers on the beat, on the streets or in the neighbourhood.

Without any doubt, the lack of a police presence on our streets has been a disaster. To reach this point must have required a conscious decision by those 'on high'.

Whoever 'they' were, we are now left to suffer. One might assume 'they' might well be of a similar mindset to those who have guided our education system to its present parlous state, where reading, spelling and maths no longer loom large.

RON HILL Leominster