The Home Secretary has told police leaders to focus on cutting crime instead of lobbying the Government for more money.
Amber Rudd said decisions about funding needed to be based on “evidence, not assertion”.
She called on police and crime commissioners (PCCs) to tell residents how they will make them safer, rather than writing press releases asking for extra cash.
Ms Rudd told an audience of PCCs and chief constables that ministers would listen to their concerns but also “critically evaluate” them.
And she insisted the public did not want to hear about disagreements over how cash was provided to forces.
A string of senior figures have raised concerns over resources amid an unprecedented terror threat and rises in levels of recorded crime.
The latest police funding settlement will be unveiled later this year.
Ms Rudd accepted that part of being a PCC was about speaking to the Government about resourcing.
“But it mustn’t just be about lobbying the Government for money,” she said.
“It needs to be about cutting crime, delivering on the priorities you were elected on and being held to account by local people in your area when you don’t.
“So when crime stats go up, I don’t just want to see you reaching for a pen to write a press release asking for more money from the Government.
“I want you to tell your local communities and the victims in your area what your plan is to make them safer.”
She acknowledged that an increase in complex investigatory work and an unprecedented wave of terror attacks had put pressure on forces.
But she told the summit in London that police now hold more than £1.6 billion in cash reserves, while inspectors have made clear “greater efficiencies” are still available.
Ms Rudd said: “So these are the considerations we will balance as we take decisions on future funding.”
Earlier, one of Britain’s most senior police officers warned that rises in recorded crime could not be dismissed as a “blip”.
Sara Thornton, chairwoman of the National Police Chiefs’ Council, said offences involving knives, guns and serious violence had increased significantly.
She said: “So could this be the beginning of the end of the great crime decline?”
Last week, data revealed the number of offences recorded by police had topped five million for the first time in a decade.
Forces in England and Wales registered 5.2 million offences in the year to the end of June – a 13% rise on the previous 12 months.
They included 1.2 million “violence against the person” crimes – a broad category including murder, assault, harassment and stalking.
The data also showed increases in the numbers of recorded knife-related crimes, thefts, frauds and sex offences.
Opening the conference, Ms Thornton said: “I do not think we can risk viewing this rise in crime as a blip.”
She also flagged up record levels of 999 calls and growing “non-crime demand” to “bridge gaps” in local services.
Warning that the police service was “stretched”, Ms Thornton said it was clear that the Government’s 2015 “flat cash” settlement for forces was “unsustainable”.