Serious incidents such as assaults and domestic violence are not being responded to by police due to a shortage of officers, it has been claimed.
The Scottish Police Federation (SPF), which represents the rank and file, said high-priority calls which should require an immediate response are being “downgraded”.
It tweeted a message from a serving officer who said he was “shocked” that grade 2 and 3 calls would be left unanswered until they are no longer ongoing.
The officer said the force was “continually letting down the public,” leaving them to “repeatedly call back in”.
Grade 2 calls are considered a priority and are usually incidents where Police Scotland consider there is a “degree of importance or urgency” that requires a vehicle using its siren to respond.
Grade 3 calls related to standard incidents where police attendance is required and where “the outcome could be prejudiced by significant delay”.
Police Scotland said all incidents and calls are “appropriately risk assessed” and graded accordingly.
But SPF general secretary Calum Steele said incidents such as fights and domestic abuse were not being responded to quickly enough.
He said: “At a time where police chiefs across England and Wales are increasingly highlighting the problems created by having fewer officers and the effect it has on rising crime rates, Police Scotland and the Scottish Government, having so far avoided enforcing on communities the kind of damage caused by slashing police numbers in England and Wales, looks to now be adopting that very approach.
“The police service is simply not able to deal with the demands put upon it. The people suffering as a consequence of that are our communities, but it also has a debilitating effect on police officers who want to be able to give a better service but are simply unable to because of the demand placed upon them and how few of them there are.”
Police officer numbers in Scotland fell to 17,170 in the first three months of the year – their lowest level in nine years – before climbing to 17,172 in the second quarter.
The Scottish Government shelved a long-standing commitment on officer numbers last year amid pressure from senior officers who are working to address the force’s budgetary problems.
The force plans to cut 400 officers by late 2020 as part of a ten-year strategy
Chief Superintendent Roddy Newbigging, of Police Scotland, said: “All incidents and calls are appropriately risk assessed and are graded accordingly on the information presented.”