A police force has told locals to keep any lost property they find – because they will no longer look after lost bikes, umbrellas, or keys.
Sussex Police has urged members of the public to try and reunite lost property with their owners themselves instead of bothering coppers with it.
Local forces are under increasing pressure to “reduce non-essential demand” and have published new rules on what lost property they will accept and process.
Empty handbags, bags, wallets and purses will not be accepted, along with cases, clothing and food.
Police will also not accept ‘animals’ or ‘rubbish/waste’ but will continue to accept phones, computers, tablets or wallets that contain cash when the owner can be identified.
They will also hold onto ‘unidentifiable cash’, watches and jewellery.
Items suspected of being stolen or involved in crime, firearms and ammunition, explosives, chemicals and drugs are also amongst the items that will still be looked after by police – but it is not clear whether they will be returned to their owner.
Identity documents such as passports, birth certificates and driving licenses or anything containing personal information such as benefit books or bank statements will be “accepted and processed immediately”.
Chief Inspector Roy Hodder said: “Police services are under increasing pressure to reduce non-essential demand.
“The public are encouraged to retain the property themselves and try to reunite it with its owner wherever possible. In all cases reasonable steps to trace the owner should be made.
“Items that contain personal data should be reported to the issuing authority for example, the relevant bank for a debit card.
“If you are unable to do this and you hand it in to the police, we will forward this onto them for you.
“The card will not be retained by the police.
“If you find an item on licensed premises, private premises, such as a hotel, house, in a taxi, on public transport, on business premises or educational premises, you should hand it to staff as they should operate their own lost and found procedures.
“If you find an item and you believe it is stolen or has been involved with a crime, please report this to us online, via 101 or visit your local police station.”
By Adela Whittingham