Hampshire’s chief constable Andy Marsh is not one for speaking rashly. So when he says his staff are burning out, it pays to sit up and listen.
Multi-million-pound cuts to his budget have taken their toll on all those who work for the constabulary, whether front-line officers or civilians.
And he says enough is enough. His team is exhausted.
His force can no longer withstand people working double shifts or stepping in to boost flagging rotas on their days off.
So choices, difficult ones, have to be made.
However, the police are not unique.
Wherever you look in Austerity Britain, workers are straining every sinew to survive and help their employers survive.
A culture of long hours, stressed staff and missed breaks is the norm whether you are in the public or private sector.
Wherever you look, those who have jobs are exhausted.
But are Mr Marsh’s choices really so difficult?
In warning that difficult decisions lie ahead, he says: ‘The time has come where we can’t commit to be all things to all people.’
He’s absolutely right, but it’s the public he has now got to convince.
We have lost count of the number of times we have reported the time-wasting antics of those who think they have a God-given right to summon police help for, say, a badly-cut finger, a lost cat, or the opening hours of their nearest supermarket.
Now those who call the police wanting them to put a stop to noisy neighbours will be politely but firmly pointed in the direction of their district or city council.
It’s all about time, but no doubt there will be many who will whinge. But the police force is there to police, not act as an offshoot of social services.
There must be myriad ways in which Mr Marsh can hive off all the non-urgent aspects of his staff’s jobs.
The one thing that must never happen is officers failing to respond at speed to real emergencies where safety or property is at risk or a crime is being committed. That would alienate the public.