A recent news item referred to how a few years ago, in a rural area, people left their doors unlocked and were in and out of each others' houses all the time.

It is a claim often made about life a few decades ago. The story may have become a bit embellished over time, but things were no doubt different.

There are still areas today around the country where people leave things unlocked and can go away and return to their property or possessions.

However, in London and beyond the fear of crime sees people retreating into their own homes. The old saying that an Englishman’s home is his castle seems ever more true. Houses and flats are fortified with alarm systems and CCTV cameras. Many are insecure in their homes. We do not trust each other.

Matters are made worse by social media, which hypes up the threat of crime. Totally subjective views are posted, casting suspicion and blame around. The overall effect is to make people frightened of coming out of their secured front door.

This state of affairs, with distrust, suspicion and fear abounding, is called progress. Progress from the days when doors could be left unlocked and there was a genuine community spirit.

There has always been crime. Today things are made worse by the Government’s ludicrous cuts to the police. The move is deliberate, under-resourcing and undermining the morale of the service in order to move the country toward more policing being done by unaccountable private security firms.

However, another factor is that never have so many people been so rich. People have more and more stuff to guard with their alarm and camera systems. At the same time there is a growing chasm between the haves and have nots. This state of affairs is a recipe for more crime.

Greater community involvement will cut crime. The growth of initiatives like Safer Neighbourhoods and Neighbourhood Watch have brought people together with a united voice to address crime. Social media has made these type of groups and others more effective, with applications like WhatsApp enabling people to stay informed about what is going on in the area. So there are positive developments.

However, there also need to be other moves taken at a national level to address crime. Backing and proper resourcing for the police service is a must. Few of us want to be forced back into gated communities, patrolled by private security companies.

An overhaul of the whole way that criminals are dealt with by the justice system is also important. At present the prisons are effectively universities of crime. There are extraordinary levels of illiteracy and innumeracy amongst prisoners. Yet, how much effort goes into rehabilitating prisoners so they don’t come out to reoffend? Recent statistics suggest not much, with almost half of offenders reoffending within a year of release.

The out of sight, out of mind attitude toward criminals really just makes the problem worse in the long term. All but a handful of the prisoners held in the prison system will come out at some point and could be living next door to any of us.

Much of crime is based around the drug trade. Some decriminalisation and control of this by the Government would no doubt make huge inroads into the problems of crime.

So there is much to be done at local and national levels if we really want to cut crime. Simply building the barriers higher will not resolve the problem. The real answer lies with greater community involvement and a more grown up approach to the issues of crime and punishment.