Bosses at Staffordshire Police have hit out at the Government after being told they have to find £400,000 to fund a pay rise for officers facing workload crises.
Chief constable Gareth Morgan said the pay increase had not been included in budgets at a time when police were being forced to make millions in savings, with many officers at breaking point due to increased workloads.
He said: "We already have a shortfall we have to work towards and this is an added amount. I have always made it clear that the expectation for us to continue to make savings is unreasonable.
"My staff have had a pay freeze for six to seven years and that's a long time and you want the pay to reflect the work they have done."
Mr Morgan says the fact the country's terrorism threat level went to critical at the time of the pay announcement - which brought derision from unions - shows the heightened demand on officers. He added: "Police have been working extended hours and providing more visibility and that also has to be paid for."
The county's Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Ellis said: "We do talk to the Government about forward planning so we don't have this sort of thing.
"I have reserves in order to deal with it and will go to the reserves for things that are last minute. I am not stressed about it, but I am a bit irritated about how it's been done."
Keith Jervis, chairman of the Staffordshire Police Federation, says some forces may have to consider their officer numbers when finding the cash.
He said: "Our members are angry and forces have been put in an impossible situation. We feel the government has not been truthful and honest about the pay award given to officers, and this is insulting.
"The two per cent awarded has to come from existing policing budgets which means forces may have to choose between officer numbers and public safety. That cannot be right, a pay award yet again lass than the rate of inflation, is in real terms, a reduction.
"Crime is not falling, it's on the up - cyber crime and violence has exploded. Officers are having to do more and more and cries of extra police officers being on patrol at times of heightened terrorist threat level are not 'extra' police officers. They are the same officers doing longer hours, being called back in when they are off or being given extra responsibilities.
"The public has been fantastic at giving us support but they deserve better. Officers give all to become police officers but they are broken; unable to cope with the mental and physical demands placed upon them by having to work in depleted environments. This cannot be right or fair on anyone - let alone the public."