Frontline officers are telling Panorama they find it increasingly difficult to do their job effectively and claim they are being undermined by paperwork and pressure to meet government targets.
Panorama: Wasting Police Time - BBC One, 8.30pm Monday 17 September
Some are now so fed up, they are leaving the country to join foreign police forces.
Panorama has spoken to a number of former and serving officers who say the very foundation of police work - that of preventing crime - is being undermined.
Officers speak of their sheer frustration at the volume of paperwork.
They also complain that government targets skew how they do their job.
A heavy focus on detection rates means officers can be tempted to concentrate on offences that are easier to clear up, however trivial.
One officer tells Panorama "Police officers are like anyone, they'll go for the easy option - the path of least resistance."
Some felt that policing now mostly comes down to meeting crime detection targets.
A former officer tells Panorama: "The public think that we solve burglaries, the public think that we're actually on patrol accosting thieves and people who are up to no good.
"But what we actually do is attempt to meet government statistics by solving trivial crime."
And this week many of their concerns were supported by the Chief Inspectorate of Policing's interim review into policing in England and Wales.
Sir Ronnie Flanagan's report said "excess bureaucracy" must be cut to free-up police time.
He said forces would "over-record and under-deliver" for fear of missing something or being criticised.
Panorama: Wasting Police Time can be seen on BBC One at 8.30pm on Monday 17 September.