ALEX Salmond has been accused of "taking a wrecking ball" to Scotland's justice system after new figures revealed 60% of police stations have been shut down or closed to the public since 2007.
Conservative and Liberal Democrat MSPs rounded on the SNP's record on policing and justice yesterday, ahead of the Scottish Government's annual crime survey today.
They claimed court closures, controversial anti-sectarianism legislation and moves to end the need for corroboration in criminal trials had also damaged public confidence.
The Scottish Conservatives unveiled new figures showing the number of police stations with public access has fallen from 386 in 2007 to 153, after the latest round of counter closures on Monday.
Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson said: "Alex Salmond has taken a wrecking ball to Scotland's justice system since he came into power in 2007.
"With a fifth of courts and half of police control rooms also being axed, thousands of people across Scotland are now being denied access to justice."
The new figures showed that the number of police stations open to the public had fallen from 132 to 54 in the old Strathclyde force area and from 47 to 30 in the former Lothian and Borders force area.
At Holyrood, Willie Rennie, the Scottish LibDem leader, called on Mr Salmond to drop controversial proposals to end the need for corroborating evidence in trials.
The measure is part of the Scottish Government's Criminal Justice Bill which narrowly survived a Holyrood vote last week. Mr MacAskill sparked anger before the vote by accusing his opponents of using the issue to undermine the SNP's independence campaign.
Yesterday, Mr Rennie said that Mr MacAskill had "let this Parliament down," and asked the First Minister: "Is he really proud of the work of the Justice Secretary on this Bill?" Mr Salmond failed to back Mr MacAskill personally but told MSPs: "I have every confidence in the pursuit of justice in Scotland."
He told MSPs: "A general rule of corroboration results in the denial of justice to some victims of some of the worst crimes in society.
"That would tend to indicate that the direction of travel that Scotland's taking is the right one."
He also claimed the justice system was working more effectively than in England and Wales and insisted the Scottish Government's flagship policy of increasing police numbers by 1000 had cut crime.