Police officers have been told they will no longer be able to pass the time by listening to radio when on duty in pairs.

Copywright laws mean if more than one officer is in a car when a song comes on the radio the force needs to pay for a performance licence.

Sussex Police now plans to save £23,000 a year by ceasing to pay for a licence and asking officers and staff to stump up themselves if they want to listen to tunes.

Desk-based officers and staff are expected to be most affected by the decision not to pay the Performing Rights Society fees.

Bob Brown, chairman of Sussex Police Federation, which represents officers, said the spending cut was necessary to make the cuts demanded by the Government.

He said: “At the end of the day, would we rather be able to keep an extra bobby on the beat or listen to the radio? It has got to be an extra bobby on the beat.”

He said some officers were making their own arrangements to pay the £54.16 cost of a licence for an office of less than five people, or £60 for a vehicle.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “The money saved by making these kinds of changes means less money will need to be found from a reduction in posts.”

The force’s media relations office confirmed it would maintain an individual licence to enable staff to monitor news sources.

The Performing Rights Society said people who work alone, where no one else is likely to hear the music, do not need a licence.

Sussex Police is searching for ways to cut £52 million from its budget over the next four years.

It has announced recruitment freezes for officers and staff.

About 500 officers and 550 staff posts are expected to be lost as part of the savings process.