A top policeman wants more civilian staff to be recruited for specialist tasks normally undertaken by officers.
Mr Naylor wants forces to be allowed to spend funding differently
Police Superintendents' Association president Rick Naylor believes the move would allow fully-fledged police more time to carry out frontline duties.
Underwater searches and court case preparation are among the areas that could be taken off their hands, the organisation's conference will be told.
Forces in England and Wales have ring-fenced funding for new officers.
In 2005-06, some £277m was earmarked for forces in the government's Crime Fighting Fund.
Community support officers (CSOs), civilian patrol wardens introduced in 2003, have limited police powers.
Mr Naylor is expected to call for "super CSOs" to work inside police stations to take the bureaucratic burden off police officers' shoulders.
But he will admit his proposal would lead to fewer actual police officers, currently a record 141,000.
"Chief constables will be scared about reducing the number of police, and it is a big risk for the politicians as well," he will say.
"But we need to update the way the police workforce is set up."
Mr Naylor will also urge Home Secretary John Reid to scrap government targets for the police, complaining they were "skewing" the work done by officers.
Mr Reid is due to outline his plans for police forces at the conference in Chester but it is understood there will be no drastic change in direction, said BBC home affairs correspondent Danny Shaw.