Police Scotland is facing having to pull back from key services like community policing and even the 101 non-emergency number as it looks at budget cuts.
There are forecasts that around 4,400 officer and staff jobs could have to go over four years.
And reducing numbers would make Police Scotland more reliant on support from other forces in England and Wales at major events.
Police Scotland’s deputy chief officer David Page told MSPs yesterday that “very, very difficult decisions” are ahead, and warned the response to 999 calls would slow.
He said: “The vast majority of our budget is people, so any cuts on our budget will fall squarely on people – police and staff who make up Police Scotland.
“We’re looking at things like having to pull back from the types of policing we do at the minute because we won’t have bodies to do it, to be quite frank.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service warned budget cuts over the coming years could lead to around a quarter of Scotland’s whole-time firefighting service becoming unaffordable.
Options include changing crewing arrangements at some stations, removing some fire engines from service, or closing fire stations.
“We will not be able to make savings of those magnitudes without it impacting upon staffing within the organisation and operational staffing within the organisation,” said interim chief fire officer Ross Haggart.
The warnings, which it was stressed were not “scaremongering”, should sound some large alarm bells today.
Funding pressures exist in every area but our emergency services must be protected.
The SNP Government will blame its funding settlement from Westminster, Westminster will say it has given record funding to Scotland.
Actually what needs to happen is for the governments to work together, perhaps in the new spirit of co-operation between the administrations since Mr Sunak took office, to find solutions.
Cuts to our emergency services are unacceptable. Cuts on this scale are a danger to the public.