Greater Manchester Police failed to record more than 80,000 crimes in a year, with watchdogs saying they're "deeply troubled" about how cases are closed without a proper investigation.
How GMP, which is England's second largest police force, provides a service to victims of crime is also a "serious cause of concern", according to the report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS).
Around one in five of all crimes, and one in four violent crimes, reported by the public to GMP are not recorded by the force, inspectors found.
GMP failed to record an estimated 80,100 crimes reported to it between July 1 2019 and June 30 2020, amounting to around 220 crimes a day.
A higher proportion of violent crime was not recorded, including domestic abuse and behavioural crimes, such as harassment, stalking and coercive controlling behaviour.
Inspectors estimated that the force recorded 77.7% of reported crimes, a drop of 11.3% from 2018.
The force wrongly and prematurely closed some investigations, inspectors found, some with vulnerable victims, a proportion being domestic abuse cases, where although a suspect was identified, the victim did not support, or withdrew support for police action.
And "in too many cases" watchdogs said there was no evidence to confirm the victim's wishes had been properly considered before the investigation was closed, and inspectors could not be sure that victims were properly safeguarded and provided with the right service or support.
Ian Hopkins has been Chief Constable of GMP since October 2015, head of a force with 6,866 officers.
HM Inspector of Constabulary Zoe Billingham also sad: "Failure to record crimes potentially prevents victims from receiving the justice and support they need.
"I am deeply troubled about how frequently the force is closing cases without a full investigation, giving the reason that the victim did not support police action.
"In too many of these cases the force didn't properly record evidence that the victim supported this decision - particularly in cases of domestic abuse, where seven in 10 are closed on this basis.
"While it is simply not good enough that these concerns have not been addressed for over four years, I acknowledge that the force is taking action to address these deficiencies."
GMP is investing in new infrastructure to centralise its crime recording and is introducing a new assessment to ensure more vulnerable victims are identified.
Ms Billingham said senior leaders in the force are demonstrating their intent to improve the service and there had been a recent marked improvement in its recording of serious sexual offences and rapes but this now needs to be done across the board.
And she warned "this situation cannot continue" with a further inspection planned in six months with "considerable and sustainable improvements" expected.
Bev Hughes, Greater Manchester’s Deputy Mayor for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice said:
She added: “GMP has already developed a detailed action plan that they are working through and I am receiving regular updates about the progress of this plan. In terms of domestic abuse, stalking and harassment, and controlling and coercive behaviour offences, poor performance had been identified as part of the action plan and, as a result, there have been increased levels of recorded crime for these areas over recent months.
“Greater Manchester residents should be reassured that the period of time covered by the HMICFRS report was some months ago and there is clear evidence that current processes have significantly improved since June 2020. This is partially due to the creation of a Crime and Incident Recording Centre of Excellence earlier this year, which provides a co-ordinated approach to improving all aspects of crime and incident recording.
“At the core of the police’s work must be the accurate and timely recording of crimes so the people of the city-region can both be kept safe and feel safe. We must ensure that victims of crime get the services and support they need when they need them. GMP has made it clear to me that the issues identified are being taken very seriously and robust plans are in place to build on the recent improvements made.