Manchester police officers have warned that they "would not report a crime to their own force" owing to serious failings, an investigation has found.
Officers from Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said its "abysmal" track record on recording crime was "unforgivable" and had given criminals the upper hand because they are "literally walking the streets not being arrested".
The warning comes after GMP, one of the country’s largest forces, was placed in special measures in December after an external report found it had failed to record 80,000 crimes in a 12-month period and had closed cases without proper investigation.
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found that around 220 crimes a day went unrecorded in the year to June 2020, leaving investigators "deeply troubled" by the frequency of cases closed without a full investigation.
Scott Winters, a former GMP officer who left in 2017 after 28 years of service, told BBC Newsnight it had become an organisation that put its reputation ahead of tackling problems.
Mr Winters described the police watchdog’s findings as "dire" and said the force was letting the public down.
"They are a victim of crime and they’ve not either had the crime recorded [or] a chance of the perpetrators being brought to justice and punished," he said.
A serving officer, who asked to remain anonymous, told the BBC the situation at GMP had not improved and said criminals "are luckier now".
The problems have resulted in 155 officers applying to leave the force and transfer to the neighbouring Lancashire Constabulary, according to freedom of information figures.
One anonymous mother spoke to the BBC about the trouble she faced when reporting that her daughter had been groomed and raped.
"We went in and the detective we spoke to already had a pile of papers on his desk and a photograph," the mother, given the name Patricia by the BBC, said. "He asked us: ‘Is this the man in question?’ and we said yes, and he said: ‘Yeah, we know a lot of stuff about this man.’
"So I just thought: ‘Brilliant, they already know who he is so it will be dealt with really, really well.’"
However, her daughter was forced to retell her account. Her phone, which was handed in as evidence, went missing and her case has been handled by four different officers, her mother claimed.
"To me they are absolutely incompetent – there’s no other word to sum them up," Patricia said.
"What this man did has ruined probably the best years of her life. It’s given her such bad anxiety that she’s on antidepressants, maximum dose. She can’t sleep. She’s just not the girl she used to be. He’s caused all that and he’s still out there. He’s not even been arrested."
Several have pointed to GMP’s new computer system, iOPS, as the catalyst of some of the failings. Stephen Watson, the newly-appointed chief constable, said: "It has been well documented that the Police Works element of the iOPS system has presented significant challenges to Greater Manchester Police.
"Police Works is under particular review, and urgent work is ongoing to underpin a detailed options appraisal.
"In relation to child sexual exploitation, GMP remains absolutely committed to protecting children, young people and all vulnerable people in our community. This includes the investigation of both current and historic sexual abuse. All victims are deserving of the most professional and empathetic response."