CRIMES including 60 per cent of rapes have been wrongly dismissed or recorded inaccurately by North Yorkshire Police, a new report suggests.

An independent watchdog examined how crimes had been recorded and highlighted the recording of alleged rapes as a problem area.

The report said: "It is particularly concerning that of the 35 rape no-crime records we reviewed, 21 of them were incorrectly no-crimed."

Overall, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) looked at 72 records and found that while 68 should have been recorded as crimes, only 57 were. Of these, five were wrongly classified and 13 were recorded outside Home Office time limits.

Investigators also looked 105 crimes that had been dismissed as 'no-crimes'. They found 71 complied with national crime recording standards, but some had been incorrectly labelled.

HMIC carried out the inspection as part of an examination of the way all 43 forces in England and Wales record crime data, to find whether police-recorded crime can be trusted.

They issued 13 recommendations for how North Yorkshire Police could improve crime recording, including the immediate creation of a new method, the inclusion of crimes that occur in other areas but relate to or are reported to North Yorkshire Police, and that those making no-crime decisions are fully aware of the appropriate rules.

Other changes must include paying special attention to vulnerable adults and children reporting crimes, a new management system, using feedback from victims to improve services, and new training for all force staff.

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick is the chief officer lead for crime data integrity at North Yorkshire Police, and said the force is working to improve the way it deals with victims of crime, as well as crime reporting.

Mr Madgwick said: "It is heartening that HMIC has recognised that we follow good practice when recording high-risk incidences, and that they have clearly stated that there is no suggestion that we have ever deliberately attempted to under-record or mis-classify crimes. However, we acknowledge there is more we can - and will - do to enhance our recording procedures.

"The main point is that no crime goes un-investigated at North Yorkshire Police - regardless of how it might subsequently be recorded on the system. The public can be assured that whenever they come forward and report an incident, it will be fully pursued by the police, and the victim will be given appropriate support."

Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: "There is clearly work to do to improve the processes around which North Yorkshire Police records crime, and I know that they have already begun to do this. I will be monitoring progress closely.

"However, it is reassuring to see that HMIC has specifically said that North Yorkshire Police has a clear understanding of the expected standards of behaviour and conduct to achieve crime recording integrity, so the public can trust the figures produced by the force."