Nottinghamshire Police may stop investigating some reports of shoplifting to save money, Police and Commissioner Paddy Tipping has said.
Mr Tipping said funding cuts and spending pressures mean the force has 25 per cent less to spend on fighting crime.
Senior officers are now looking at prioritising incidents, meaning some crimes would no longer investigated depending on the evidence available, he added.
“If there’s real evidence, a chance of an arrest, and there were officers available, yes they would attend [a shoplifting incident],” he said.
“But let’s be clear about it, the police budget has shrunk by £54 million or 25 per cent, and the police have got to make tough choices about what the priorities are.
“If you’re in bed at night and there is a burglar downstairs, you want the police to come straight away.
“If you’re a victim of rape, you expect the police to investigate it – these are the tough choices that the police have got to make.
“In the scale of things, a small-scale shoplifting may not be the top priority.”
Mr Tipping spoke as the force plans how to deal with the next funding settlement issued by central Government, which is expected to leave it with less money to spend on top of a series of cuts made over the last seven years.
His comments have been criticised by Nottingham City Council Leader Jon Collins.
He said: “The police need to continue to respond to reports of shoplifting, it’s a nonsense to suggest that it shouldn’t happen.
“Ignoring reports of shoplifting would undermine the local economy and local retailers, especially small independent businesses in the city.
“We understand the police face funding pressures as all public services do, but local people and businesses pay for a service and the police need to listen to their concerns and priorities rather than setting their own in splendid isolation as now seems to be the case.”
A year ago Notts Police’s then-Chief Constable Sue Fish said Government cuts ‘have had a deep effect’ after inspectors published a report saying the force ‘required improvement.’
A Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) report labelled Notts Police’s management of finances as ‘inadequate.’
The report also said the force’s understanding of future demand was ‘good’ and its ability to manage demand ‘requires improvement’.
HMIC is an independent regulator that inspects police forces to make sure that they are operating as they should be.
Last month Home Secretary Amber Rudd criticised police chiefs for pointing the funding cuts imposed by the Government.
She said: “Of course, part of being a police and crime commissioner is about speaking to the government about resourcing. But it mustn’t just be about lobbying the government for money.
“It needs to be about cutting crime, delivering on the priorities you were elected on and being held to account by local people in your area when you don’t.”