Police forces have been warned they are to face snap inspections by the official watchdog amid continued concerns about inaccurate reporting of crime.
HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary Sir Thomas Winsor has written to chief constables in England and Wales informing them that forces found to be failing to record crimes properly should expect "appropriate criticism".
The move follows a report last year by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) which found that on average 19% of crimes were not recorded by forces, rising to 26% for sexual offences.
In his letter, Sir Thomas said that all forces would now face "unannounced" inspections by HMIC - not just those which performed badly in last year's report - with the findings to be made public.
He said accurate recording of crime was essential if forces were to operate efficiently and make sound decisions on the deployment of resources.
"In our report, we said that failure properly to record crime is indefensible, and a continuation of the reported national failure rate would be deplorable," he wrote.
"The importance which HMIC - and those who hold police forces to account - attaches to accurate crime-recording is undiminished.
"Any force which is found not to be taking all necessary steps to record crimes accurately and in accordance with the published rules and standards should expect appropriate criticism from HMIC.
"It is in the interests of every force to ensure that materially adverse public criticism of any force is avoided."