“Serious concerns” have been raised over the ability of the county’s police force to protect vulnerable people and repeat victims of crime.

Inspectors found that some domestic abuse victims have continued to remain at risk and that Wiltshire Police doesn’t always follow all leads in investigations.

They also had concerns over the way the force manages its money and resources.

It comes as Wiltshire Police was placed into special measures following the inspection by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS).

The report grades eight areas of policing – finding that three were inadequate and five require improvement.

Writing following the inspection, Wendy Williams, one of the inspectors, said: “I have serious concerns about Wiltshire Police’s performance, particularly how it responds to the public, protects vulnerable people and makes use of its resources.

“The force is missing opportunities to protect vulnerable and repeat victims of crime. It needs to improve the way it manages victims’ calls, so that all vulnerable people are identified. Some domestic abuse victims have received an unacceptable level of service and have continued to remain at risk. The force is not supervising investigations well enough and doesn’t always follow all investigative opportunities.

"More positively, the force has recently developed plans to address violence against women and girls and intends to make progress in how it understands and protects vulnerable people.

“Given our findings, we are now monitoring Wiltshire under our Engage process which provides additional scrutiny and support.”

The inspection found that Wiltshire Police is failing to understand and promptly identify vulnerability at the first point of contact, that it needs to improve how it protects vulnerable people from harm, it needs to improve how it plans and manages its organisational efficiency and improve the quality of crime investigations.

HMICFRS rated Wiltshire Police inadequate in three areas: responding to the public, protecting vulnerable people, and good use of resources.

During the inspection, the victim’s vulnerability was not assessed using a structured risk assessment in 18 out of 51 calls answered.

“The force does not adequately understand the benefits of a meaningful risk assessment,” it concludes.

It gave advice to callers on preserving evidence in only 20 out of 30 cases – including domestic abuse and rape cases. “This means that the force is losing opportunities to preserve evidence which could be important for investigations.”

Victims were not always updated on the progress of investigations, and the force “lacks understanding” of the crime demand it faces.

Where Wiltshire Police were deemed ‘inadequate’, the lowest rating available, HMICFRS has set actions that should be taken within the next three months.

They include officers undertaking a risk assessment for every incident of domestic abuse, including verbal arguments, without delay.

Elsewhere, the report said that untrained staff are looking at and grading child abuse images as part of investigations.

“This may reduce the quality and accuracy of the investigation,” the report said, but added: “It can also have a negative effect on the wellbeing of those untrained staff.”

It urged the force to review its internal training process for staff carrying out this task.

It added Wiltshire Police “is potentially leaving children at risk” by failing to make full use of systems to identify the sharing of indecent images and identify online perpetrators.

“At the time of inspection, the force had a significant backlog in intelligence research and warrant execution.”

“Most offices and staff we spoke to said that while they had a voice, they did not feel listened to by senior leaders or that their contributions had resulted in change,” the report added.

Meanwhile, senior leaders “have not had enough control of strategic planning or oversight of the impact that this is having on performance and management”.