Police forces must improve how they deal with anti-social behaviour in their communities, the head of the police inspectorate has said.
Denis O'Connor, the Chief Inspector of Constabulary, said the recording of information about harassment, criminal damage and verbal abuse was "inadequate".
He said more than half the 43 forces in England and Wales could not automatically identify repeat victims, leaving officers unaware of the most vulnerable people needing help.
A snapshot survey by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary found officers did not turn up to almost one in four (23 per cent) anti-social behaviour complaints. Around 3.6 million reports of anti-social behaviour were made in 2008-09, compared with 4.6 million crimes, but officials believe the true figure could be twice as high.
The death in 2007 of Fiona Pilkington, who killed her severely disabled 18-year-old daughter, Francecca, and then committed suicide after a gang of children terrorised them in their home for a decade, highlighted the shortcomings in how police responded to cases in which vulnerable people were tormented.
Mr O'Connor said: "An awful lot of police forces have real problems. There is a lot of it, a lot of it is under-reported and there is a problem with nailing the intelligence around it."Reuse content