Northamptonshire and Humberside have been named the worst performing police forces in Home Office figures published today.
The second annual performance ratings assess the progress made by the 43 police forces in England and Wales on seven key areas. The Home Office does not publish a league table of results, but the performance of each force is made public.
Today's figures come after the government was forced to scrap plans to merge the forces into just 12 'super-forces', which it argued would improve their performance, amid strong reservations from opposition parties and the police themselves.
At the top end of the spectrum are Staffordshire and Northumbria, which scored only "excellent" or "good" ratings in the seven key areas.
By contrast, Humberside was "poor" in two areas - local policing and assistance - and "fair" on the remaining five - resource management, investigating and reducing crime, promoting safety and engaging citizens.
Chief constable Tim Hollis blamed a lack of resources for making his officers' life more difficult, but said: "I'm realistic, however, and I know that we're not yet out of the trees. More needs to be done and we are doing it."
Northamptonshire fared little better, being classed as "poor" on reducing crime, promoting safety and local policing; "fair" on investigating crime and citizen focus; and "good" on providing assistance and use of resources.
But the chief inspector of constabulary, Ronnie Flanagan, noted that Northamptonshire was a force "determined to improve", and the force blamed high burglary and high street levels for their poor performance.
Home Office minister Tony McNulty stressed that across the board crime was down by two per cent on last year. More than 1.3 million offences were brought to justice last year, an increase of about 170,000 since 2005, he said.
"I am very encouraged by the police performance assessments which show that policing performance has improved across the board," he said.
"Crime and fear of crime are both down, investigations are up and the number of offences brought to justice has increased significantly."
He added: "Over the past four years we have seen real and sustainable improvements in police performance.We are driving up performance by implementing national minimum standards of service for all aspects of contact with the police."
Jan Berry, head of the Police Federation which represents rank and file officers, welcomed the results but disputed their worth as a picture of police performance.
"We must not discount aspects of policing that cannot easily be counted. The officers I represent are becoming increasingly frustrated by target chasing, form filling and number crunching at the expense of the professional police service," she said.