INSPECTORS have criticised Sussex Police for lacking an “overarching strategy” for preventing crime and failing to keep track of named suspects yet to be arrested.

Criminal justice inspectors also found an “inconsistency” in deciding whether to attend a crime or resolve it on the telephone. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary looked at all 43 forces in England and Wales between January and April and examined how they prevented crime, responded to reports of crime and freed staff time to focus on policing.

In a letter sent to Sussex Police Chief Constable Giles York on Wednesday, inspector Zoe Billingham said the force’s measures to manage offenders were “not as effective as they could be” although recent changes were positive and a review was under way.

She said the force had been unable to provide inspectors with the number of named suspects yet to be arrested for the alleged offence or the number of suspects who had failed to answer bail.

But she praised “some good examples” of long-term crime prevention initiatives, daily meetings used to highlight crime prevention, and “clear policies and procedures” for call-handlers to identify repeat victims of crime.

She said the force had a “relatively good understanding of demand” and there was a “clear structure” to help supervisors assess the workload of front-line staff.

Assistant Chief Constable Steve Barry said the report recognised “a number of real strengths in Sussex Police” and work was progressing in areas which needed improvement.

He added: “As with many of these reports, it is a snapshot in time and we are already in the process of a comprehensive review of our operating model.”

Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said the problem with failing to keep track of named suspects was down to a new computer system, which had been fixed.