Humberside and Northamptonshire are among the worst performing police forces in England and Wales, according to Home Office figures.
The best performing forces included Staffordshire and Northumbria
Humberside was also one of the worst last year but had improved since.
The best performing forces included Staffordshire and Northumbria, while the Metropolitan Police improved.
All 43 police forces were assessed in seven categories including reducing crime, investigating crime, promoting safety and providing assistance.
The other categories were citizen focus, which included community confidence in the police, resource use and local policing.
They were rated either excellent, good, fair or poor.
But the Home Office resisted publishing a league table, instead preferring to compare only forces of comparable size.
Tony McNulty, the minister in charge of policing, said it would be like comparing Liverpool FC with Accrington Stanley.
BEST AND WORST
WORST: Humberside, Northants, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire, Bedfordshire, Cleveland, Warwickshire
BEST: Staffordshire, Northumbria, City of London, Dorset, Dyfed-Powys, Hertfordshire, Lancashire, Leicestershire, North Wales, Surrey, West Yorkshire
He said the three worst performing forces were receiving special assistance and were going in the right direction.
"There's still much to be done but they've made huge improvements and should be congratulated for it."
Mr McNulty denied the proposal to reorganise the police forces, which was later abandoned, had had any negative impact on performance.
Humberside Chief Constable Tim Hollis said performance statistics can often overshadow the genuine improvement and good work that is being achieved by front-line staff.
"I know that it does not reflect the sheer hard work and commitment that my staff have put into the policing of Humberside over the last 12 months and the unambiguous and marked improvements that have been achieved," he said.
He added: "We still have some way to go to put the force back where it belongs but I congratulate my staff on the results they have achieved to date."
Northamptonshire Chief Constable Peter Maddison said the gradings were "unhelpful" but added that improvements could be made.
"As far as the public of this county's concerned, I'll say let's stick to the facts. Crime is falling, confidence is rising, we're addressing every type of criminal conduct that we have in this county," he said.
"We do have problem areas, I don't dispute that at all. Robbery and burglary are the critical things that we have to address."
Community policing is hailed as a key to success
Staffordshire Police Chief Constable David Swift praised the hard work involved in achieving a good performance.
"We're here to deliver quality policing and, whilst we still have a lot of work to do, these results show that we're on the right road and in many areas leading the way nationally," he said.
"But we can't rest on our laurels and this force will remain committed to providing an excellent customer service to Staffordshire's diverse communities based on understanding their individual needs."
Mike Craik, chief constable of Northumbria where crime has dropped by almost 40% in the last 15 years, said the key was neighbourhood policing.
"Crime happens in neighbourhoods and that's where the answers lie. We work with communities in a structured way to get to the root causes of crime and find solutions which prevent and detect offences," he said.
'Room for improvement'
Bob Jones, chairman of the Association of Police Authorities, said overall there were more excellent grades this year than last and fewer poor grades.
"Overall police performance has shown steady progress - which means an improved service for local people," he said.
"However, police authorities will want to work closely with all forces where they have room for improvement to enable them to advance standards yet further."
The report showed 1% more resources were spent on frontline policing, compared with the previous 12 months.
It said: "While the results show a slight improvement, from 62.3% in 2004/05 to 63.2% in 2005/06, this is equivalent to an additional 1,186 full-time officers carrying out front line duties."
BBC News home affairs correspondent Andy Tighe said the strength of having 43 separate forces is that they could decide their own solutions to fighting particular types of crime but it may lead to difficult to justify disparities in performance.
"For example, why should it take much longer to respond to a 999 call in one part of the country than in another, why should the clear-up rates for burglary be so much worse in one town than in another," he said.
The statistics showed there are some parts of the country where forces are struggling in certain areas, our correspondent added.