South Yorkshire Police has been told by inspectors it must improve the way it investigates offending.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary said it was particularly concerned about the force’s approach to child protection.
However, the force was praised for reducing crime, preventing offending and tackling anti-social behaviour.
Last year the force was also praised by inspectors for new plans to achieve budget cuts after previously been criticised for failing to slash its costs in line with government funding cuts.
But following this year’s inspection, the HMIC said the force is on track to meet its financial challenges and continues to develop plans to address future cash issues, including extending its collaboration with other forces.
The HMIC has this year introduced a new way of inspecting the police and reporting its findings to the public.
The new approach called the PEEL assessments looks at police effectiveness, efficiency and legitimacy and is sharing the reports on its inspections on its new website - www.justiceinspectorate.gov.uk/hmic/peel
Mike Cunningham, HM Inspector of Constabulary for the northern region, said: “South Yorkshire Police is good at partnership working, early intervention, and the management of offenders and has made good progress in child protection, although practice is inconsistent.
“The force needs improve its response to criminal investigations and the initial action being taken to safeguard victims.
“South Yorkshire Police has plans to meet the overall financial challenge of the spending review and, importantly will implement new structures for providing policing within its four districts. However, the it needs to improve the accuracy of crime recording.
“Next year we will be seeing how South Yorkshire Police has responded to these assessments and will be able to give it overall grades so that the public can see at a glance how the force is doing.”
A South Yorkshire Poice spokeswoman said: “South Yorkshire Police welcomes the findings of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in the PEEL annual assessment.
“The assessment highlights that the force is good at reducing crime and preventing offending and has a range of effective partnership working arrangements in place.
“It also concluded that we are effective at tackling anti-social behaviour and it is a clear priority for the force. South Yorkshire Police welcomes these findings.
“HMIC said the force’s management of prolific offenders through the integrated offender management programme was strong and well regarded by partners.
“It also said the identification and management of vulnerability and safeguarding for adults and children is strong.
“However, it concluded that the force needs to improve the way it investigates offending.
“South Yorkshire Police recognises these comments and has made significant progress in this area.
“The force has reviewed a number of its processes and is currently restructuring a number of departments to ensure all investigations are consistent and effective and that victims are kept up to date.
“In particular, the force has invested further significant resources in the investigation of child sexual exploitation and safeguarding vulnerable victims.”