The police have warned they could soon stop replacing officers if the Government does not help maintain funding.

Stephen House, the Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police Service, ,made the comments at a London Assembly budget and performance committee meeting to discuss the Mayor of London’s proposed police budget for next year.

During the meeting concerns were raised about a possible fall in police numbers after Sadiq Khan last week warned numbers could fall below 26,800 if the Government does not “urgently” provide more funding.

But Assembly Member Len Duvall wanted to know what steps the police would have to take to reduce the number of police officers if it did not receive adequate Government funding.

Mr House warned: “The only way we can do this is to stop recruiting people and not replacing people who leave the organisation.”

But Mr House said this could have a direct impact on front-line policing.

He said: “If that happened we would have to have a radical change in policing.”

“This will be most felt on front-line policing and on the streets and reducing to this number will be very difficult.

“It will impact upon the ability of police officers to respond to calls and be proactive and this will make policing look different.

“If we knew about money for policing for the next ten years it would make it easier to plan and develop a policing model.”

The Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) estimated the Metropolitan Police is required to make a further £355 million in savings by 2022.

But MOPAC said this means this could result in police numbers falling to 26,800 – the lowest number since 2002.

The Government is due to announce funding on local policing, although the date has not been confirmed.

The deputy mayor for policing and crime, Sophie Linden, also told assembly members it was not “sustainable” to use money from budget reserves to plug a £240 million deficit in the policing budget.

Ms Linden added: “The Government needs to be prepared to prioritise the safety of Londoners and policing.”