One of Britain’s largest police forces is failing to record thousands of alleged offences, including those affecting covenience store retailers.

An assessment by police inspectors into West Midlands Police found only 83.8% of reported offences were recorded by the force. 

The HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS) estimates that West Midlands Police is not recording at least 38,800 reports of crime each year. A spokesman confirmed that crimes such as shop theft, fraud and burglary are included in the figures.

Wendy Williams, HM Inspector of Constabulary, said: “I am very disappointed with the result of our recent inspection into how West Midlands Police records crime.

“This is not just low-level crime: it includes sexual offences and violent crime. Not only does this mean the force cannot fully understand the demand it faces to plan accordingly, but it also means that victims could potentially be at more risk of harm, without the required support.”

HMICFRS noted improvements in West Midlands Police’s processes since 2014 but rated the force as inadequate for effectiveness at recording reported crime.

The findings are the latest issued under a series of ongoing inspections, looking at the crime data of every police force in England and Wales.