WEST Yorkshire Police were today labelled one of the worst in Britain.
Official tables revealed the five poorest-performing police forces in England and Wales.
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary named the two police forces criticised in the wake of the Soham murders - Humberside and Cambridgeshire - among the worst, along with Cleveland, Nottinghamshire and West Yorkshire.
"In comparison with their peers they still have a long way to go," said chief inspector Sir Keith Povey.
But West Yorkshire Chief Constable Colin Cramphorn hit back, saying the figures were out of date.
He said policing performance in West Yorkshire was the most improved in the country, with the force out-performing other areas with accelerating improvements in key areas of crime.
Mr Cramphorn said today's report was out of date, providing only a `rear-view mirror' look at performance across the Force.
The inspection report covered performance against a wide range of activity, he added, but did not reflect recent improvements made in the key policing areas of burglary, car crime and robbery.
In the 16 areas inspected the force was graded `Excellent' or `Good' in five, 'Fair' in nine and `Poor' in two areas - volume crime and road policing.
Nationally inspectors examined 23 different activities in each force, and for the first time have awarded a ranking of either excellent, good, fair or poor in 16 areas, including traffic policing, volume crime such as burglary and robbery and reassuring the public.
Humberside and Cleveland had the highest number of poor ratings, with six each.
Lincolnshire and North Yorkshire were also singled out for their below-average performance.
The best forces in England and Wales were named as Kent, Lancashire, Northumbria, Staffordshire and Suffolk, with Merseyside and West Midlands also commended.
Call handling was identified as one of the major concerns across England and Wales, along with forces' ability to tackle cross-border and region-wide crime such as drug dealing.
On call handling, Sir Keith said: "A number of forces are struggling in dealing with that aspect of activity, both 999 calls and non-urgent calls.
"That is such a big issue, as the majority of people contact the police via the telephone and there's certainly some work to be done there.
"The response on 999 calls tends to be better.
"My gut feeling is that the frustration of not being able to get through on ordinary police phone numbers leads to a rise in 999 calls."
POLICE Federation chairman Jan Berry called for better training for call staff after the report.
She said: "The public should be able to contact their local police about non-urgent matters without spending all day waiting for their phone call to be answered.
"Chief Officers need ensure that there is proper investment in professional and efficient call handling staff who are suitably trained and resourced."