Worst-performing police forces revealed

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Bedfordshire is the worst-performing police force in England and Wales, according to figures from the Home Office today.

It came bottom of an unofficial league table compiled by the Press Association based on Government data, scoring just one point out of a possible 21.

Two other forces - Thames Valley (seven points) and Wiltshire (eight points) - achieved relatively low marks and also had overall minus scores in separate ratings for year-on-year improvement.

Greater Manchester, Lincolnshire, Humberside and Northamptonshire also scored seven points in ratings by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.

The report also revealed that the amount of time officers are spending on the front line has barely increased despite a massive drive by the Government.

The national average stood at 64.2%, just 0.6% up on last year.

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty warned that forces are facing financially "tight" times as the Government prepares to publish its long-awaited Comprehensive Spending Review.

He said: "We are now entering a more flat-line period in terms of resources after seven or eight years of growth."

Asked about police inefficiency, he added: "The notion that this is still an inefficient public service is wrong. The notion that this is the last bastion of 1960s public service, again, could not be further from the truth."

Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Ronnie Flanagan said most forces have made significant improvements following last year's inspection.

But he added that some have identified specific areas for improvement, in particular in Bedfordshire where inspectors are working with the Chief Constable to turn the problems around.

He said: "It is not going to be a perfect picture across the board and no-one here is trying to pretend that is the case."

Sir Ronnie said police forces have improved the way they protect vulnerable people but he said there must be no let-up in efforts to identify, manage and reduce risk to the public.