police uk
Sara Thornton warned it could be that an officer would not come to investigate a stolen iPadGetty

Government cuts in police funding could mean officers will no longer respond to crimes such as burglaries, Britain's most senior policewoman warned.

Sara Thornton, head of the new National Police Chief Council, said that reduced funding and the changing nature of crime has altered how prioritise dealing with offences.

Thornton, former chief constable at Thames Valley Police, told the BBC this may mean if there were reports of an iPad stolen from a house, an officer might not go to investigate.

She said: "Crime is changing in this country. There are a lot less burglaries than there used to be, a lot less car crime, but the sorts of crimes that are on the increase – sexual offences, concerns about terrorism, cybercrime – that's where we really need to focus.

"We need to move from reacting to some of those traditional crimes to think about focusing on threat and harm and risk and protecting the public.

"If we're really serious about putting a lot of effort into protecting children, for example, it might mean if you've had a burglary, for example, and the burglar has fled, we won't get there as quickly as we have in the past.

"Of course, we will still want to gather evidence, but we might do it in different ways."

In June, The National Audit Office (NAO) criticised the Home Office for not having a "clear understanding" of the effects police cuts will have on services or how to continue doing so without degrading services further.

Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, Metropolitan Police Service commissioner, also warned that "public safety will suffer" if funding to police continues to be cut.

Between 2010-11 and 2015-16,Government funding for police forces have been cut by £2.3bn ($3.5bn, €3.2bn) – around 25% – with total funding to each of the 43 forces in England and Wales reduced by between 12% and 23%.

Figures estimate the number of officers in England and Wales has fallen by more than 16,000 in the past five years.