A leading Scottish police chief has said their resources must target need and not necessarily public demand.
Pat Shearer, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, said it was the best way to protect people.
He told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme: "We have to listen and focus on where the need is, and not necessarily the demand.
He said it was vital to concentrate on "areas where we can be effective".
He made the comments after telling the Daily Mail newspaper: "The idea of the universal police service for all belongs to a time when resources were plentiful.
"We have to accept that a lot of the public can look after themselves.
"When times get hard you really have to target resources."
Mr Shearer, chief constable of Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary, later told BBC Radio Scotland that public spending cuts could be "working their way through" to the police force.
In these circumstances it was "much more important that we are continuing that line to target, and make the best use of our resources".
He said: "That's the best way to protect the broad public, for us to be most effective with the people and the money that we have."
Mr Shearer conceded that, if taken in isolation, his remarks might "appear to be quite frightening".
However, he added: "We currently have the lowest crime rates we've had for the last 30 years, we've got the highest detection rates, and that doesn't happen by accident.
"It comes through targeting our resources and being very effective in the use of resources.
"What I was clearly trying to point out is that for us to continue to be effective we have to very much target our resources where the need is and not necessarily where the demand is."
He said that was building on an approach the police had been working on for the past 10 years.
"For us to be able to protect those middle-class areas most effectively we have to be able to target our resources," he said.
"It's much more important to try to stop crime happening in the first place."