Victims of crime are being ‘let down’ in investigations by officers from South Yorkshire Police, inspectors have found.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said the force needs to improve in the way it investigates offending and has particular concerns about its approach to child protection.
However, the force was praised for reducing crime, preventing offending and tackling anti-social behaviour.
Inspectors also found the force was on track to meet its financial challenges.
HMIC has released its first ever set of PEEL reports – short for police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy – after inspecting police forces across the country.
It said it was of ‘material concern’ that 18 forces out of 43 across England and Wales were assessed as ‘requiring improvement’ in the way they investigate offending.
In relation to South Yorkshire Police, inspectors found officers were not routinely providing updates to victims within time frames or by appropriate means.
The report said crime investigation and supervision of crime is not of a consistent standard, with evidence of crimes being finalised without ‘investigative opportunities being fully explored’.
In relation to child protection, inspectors found the force did not treat all children to the same standard. They raised concerns about the lack of understanding of the risks posed by offenders who target vulnerable children and found shortcomings in the protection of children in care.
The report said the recent investment of extra resources into child sexual exploitation was ‘starting to have an effect’.
Mike Cunningham, HM Inspector of Constabulary for the northern region, said: “South Yorkshire Police is good at partnership working, early intervention, and the management of offenders and has made good progress in child protection, although practice is inconsistent.
“The force needs to improve its response to criminal investigations and the initial action being taken to safeguard victims.
“South Yorkshire Police has plans to meet the overall financial challenge of the spending review and, importantly will implement new structures for providing policing within its four districts.
“However, the force needs to improve the accuracy of crime recording.
“Next year we will be seeing how South Yorkshire Police has responded to these assessments and will be able to give it overall grades so that the public can see at a glance how the force is doing.”
HMIC has also launched a new website to allow the public to see at a glance how well their force is performing.