SURREY police officers will soon be refusing to turn out to investigate certain crimes.
The constabulary's top brass is currently drawing up a list of those incidents which will not warrant on-the-spot attention. They have yet to make a final decision, but it is likely that minor vehicle crime and thefts, and many domestic incidents, will be included.
The decision to draw up a priority list follows a cut in the amount of cash Surrey police will receive from the Home Office. For the new financial year starting next April, the county will receive £82.5-million - an increase of £1.9-million on the current year.
But, because of rising costs, this represents a 2.6 per cent reduction in real terms, making the settlement one of the lowest in the country.
Police chiefs say the county is the victim of the national funding formula which penalises Surrey because of its economic prosperity.
Chief Constable Denis O'Connor warned that radical changes would have to be made to ensure that, despite limited funding, Surrey remains the safest county force in the country.
"Over the coming months we will have to make some hard decisions about policing in the county," he added.
His comments about the financial squeeze were echoed by Alan Peirce, county police authority chairman.
Mr Peirce said council taxpayers would have to help make up some of the shortfall.