GREATER Manchester Police wrongly cancelled crime records for a quarter of robbery cases and one in 20 sexual offences, a new report has revealed.

In a wide ranging analysis of police forces throughout the country the Shared Data Unit found that hundreds of possible victims who reported crimes to police were never told the investigation was being dropped, meaning victims of crimes such as rape and other sexual offences, robbery and burglary never had an opportunity for justice.

Charity Rape Crisis has described the "failings" as "completely unacceptable".

The unit analysed data published in the most recent reports, between 2016 and 2020 from HM Inspectorate of Constabulary about the forces' "crime data integrity".

The inspectors had reviewed a sample of situations when a crime was reported but police officers later decided no crime had taken place.

Greater Manchester Police were judged to be outstanding at recording crime.

The Home Office, using a victim centred approach to crime recording, states that a belief by a victim that a crime has been committed is enough to justify it being records but if other evidence subsequently comes to light, such as a CCTV footage or a written statement from the victim, the record can be cancelled. When this happens victims are supposed to be given an explanation.

However, it was found that, in Greater Manchester, one quarter of reports of robberies were incorrectly cancelled and five per cent of sexual offence allegations.

Figures were not available for the number of rapes or violent offence reports which have been incorrectly cancelled by the force or the number of victims who have not been informed.

Throughout the country 18 other forces had also wrongly cancelled rape reports, including neighbouring Cheshire Constabulary, where 43 per cent were cancelled and 37 forces had wrong cancelled reports of violent crime.

Responding to the report, GMP's Assistant Chief Constable Rob Potts, said: "The 2018 HMICFRS audit highlighted some areas for improvement for GMP, such as our decision to cancel crimes and the processes for ensuring victims of crime are notified of the decision to cancel their crime.

"The robbery sample size that has been mentioned within this article has been taken from the report conducted in 2018. This sample makes up a very small percentage of the total number of crimes, so the percentage is not representative of all crimes. The 25% of incorrectly recorded robbery crimes equates to five robbery offences. However, one inaccuracy is one too many, and we must not be complacent in our efforts to constantly evolve the service we provide to the public and make further improvements where possible. Since the report we now have a dedicated central reclassification and cancellation team that specialise purely in the work to improve standards.

"Being a victim of crime can have a devastating impact on those directly affected, as well as their families and friends, so we endeavour to learn from these findings and ensure that the decision to cancel a crime is accurate, and that all victims receive case progress updates - including eventual outcomes - regardless of the type of crime.

A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs' Council said: "Our priority is to ensure that victims have the confidence to report crimes, safe in the knowledge that they will be fully investigated and that they will receive appropriate support and information.

"We are working to further improve the accuracy of crime reporting."