More than two thirds of police forces in England & Wales are failing vulnerable victims, including children suffering sexual abuse.
An investigation by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) identified four forces as "inadequate" in the way they protect & support those at risk.
Bedfordshire, Essex, Staffordshire & Surrey were judged as having "serious weaknesses" in their ability to safeguard & investigate cases involving vulnerable people.
Inspectors said 27 forces "caused concern" or had "areas for improvement" or both. No force was rated as "outstanding".
Zoe Billingham, who led the investigations, said: "Victims of crime & anti-social behaviour who are vulnerable in some way are in greatest need of the police's protection & support yet HMIC's inspection found that most forces require improvement in how they protect & support them."
In response to the HMIC report,Â Staffordshire Police said : "We are developing a range of improvements to donate confidence to our communities, partners & HMIC that Staffordshire Police is keeping people safe."
EssexÂ Police accepted the findings as "profoundly disappointing" yet added "a huge amount of work has been under way for the last two years & more to improve how Essex Police protects vulnerable people".
Bedfordshire Police told Sky News: "A significant amount of work has been done since the inspection earlier in the year & we are pleased to see positive improvements emerging."
And Surrey Police's response was: "The Force has fundamentally overhauled its capabilities & substantially increased the number of officers & staff working in these areas."
The findings come at the same time as a linked HMIC inquiry warned units dedicated to domestic abuse are on the verge of being "overwhelmed" following a 31% surge in reported cases.
This spike is partially due to better recording of domestic abuse violence & the increased willingness from victims to come forward.
The report said all 43 forces in England & Wales had responded well to a highly critical 2014 report & all had made some level of improvement.
But it stressed all vulnerable victims needed the same level of support & "even small failures may have tragic consequences".
Source: “Sky News”