Humberside Police force have admitted that they will not be investigating less serious crimes unless they are racist or homophobic in a move that Shadow Home Secretary David Davis called “terrifying”.

Theft, criminal damage, common assault, harassment and non-domestic burglary are among offences which officers may not have time to deal with in an overstretched force. Police chiefs on Humberside insisted that the cuts were necessary in order to comply with a Home Office directive to deal with a backlog of 3,500 unsolved serious offences in the city.

So-called minor crimes will only be pursued where there is clear evidence such as CCTV footage, or if an offender “presents themselves” for easy arrest – for example, when a shop lifter is handed over to the police by shop security. Crimes motivated by disabilist, ageist, racist or homophobic attitudes, however classify as “aggravated” and will be investigated more fully by police.

Chief Superintendent Sean White, divisional commander for Hull, defended his decision to implement the policy. “It is the only way you can match resources to work,” he explained, “We were set targets by the Home Office to cut the backlog of old cases of robbery, burglary, vehicle crime and violent crime.”

130 crimes are committed in Hull every day, to be dealt with by 138 officers. Rationing police response in relation to the severity of the crime has been the only solution for many police forces. “This is unusual for Humberside,” Mr White noted, “but in terms of the rest of the country I would say it’s not an extreme example of a screening policy.”

“It is shocking that police up and down the country are having to ignore crime in order to meet Home Office targets,” said Mr Davis. “This is a real insult to the millions of victims of crime.”