Police forces are "failing" the British public amid increasing demand and falling officer numbers, the new head of the Police Federation has warned.

John Apter, who took over as national chairman of the association at the start of August, said the public would continue to "suffer" as stretched resources leave police unable to investigate some of the crimes they would have dealt with in the past.

He also warned policing in some areas was "broken" and that forces were "in crisis".

He told The Independent: "We can't do everything - there are going to be situations where we simply can't deliver the policing we want to deliver.

"In those cases we are failing the public but that's not the fault of police officers on the ground, and in some cases it's not the chief constable's fault.

"You can only slice the financial cake so many ways and you have to prioritise ... the public are already suffering and they are going to suffer more and more."

Mr Apter blamed funding cuts by the Government for putting too much pressure on policing, and said despite some efficiency savings, forces were now in danger of becoming inefficient.

According to the latest figures, the number of police officers in England and Wales was 122,404 at the end of March, the lowest number since comparable records started in 1996.

At the same time, crime rates have risen, with forces logging 5.5 million crimes in the 12 months to March - a rise of a tenth (11%) compared with the previous year and the highest tally for an equivalent period since 2005/06.

Last year, the Metropolitan Police announced new guidelines which would mean officers could "determine very quickly if it is proportionate" to investigate "lower level, higher volume offences" further.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Mark Simmons said the force had to work with fewer officers and less money, with the Crime Assessment Policy introduced to help prioritise resources.

The Home Office says total investment in the police system will be increased by over £460 million in 2018-19, including funding for local policing through the council tax precept.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid has pledged to provide forces with the "tools, the powers and the back-up that you need to get the job done", and has committed to prioritising police funding in next year's spending review.