Speaking to the Scottish Police Association board yesterday, Sir Stephen said the proposals to reduce opening hours or close public counters were based on in-depth analysis of the footfall of the public.
He said increasing numbers of people were contacting Police Scotland through the non- emergency 101 number and on Facebook and Twitter.
Of the force's 214 public counters, some will see their opening hours reduced and 65 will be closed to the public under the proposals, including three in Glasgow.
"Where we are looking to close public counters it is based on the footfall of people coming in," he said. "They (the 65) are either very close to other police stations or in communities where there is coverage from community officers or where the station itself has the smallest footfall imaginable.
"If we were to keep these offices open it would mean backfilling civilian staff with police officers and taking them off the streets. We are seeing quite a few officers already having to cover absences by support staff.
"We are spending public money and we are obliged to do that as efficiently as we can. The public expect us to be out on the streets. They expect us to come round to their house when they call us. We have a finite number of officers."
Following demands for a detailed breakdown of the budget for the next three years, Sir Stephen told board members: "It would be great if we could say we are going to present a complete strategy to show we can balance the books for the next few years.
"We are nowhere near saying for the next three years we have a balanced budget. There is still a great deal of concern about how we are going to balance that budget and it would not be right to pretend otherwise."
The force will have to find more than £60 million in savings this year and another £130m next year.
Sir Stephen said a great deal of work was continuing to make the requisite savings and that the budget for 2013/14 was looking positive.
The proposals to close police front counters will be considered by staff, but the Scottish Liberal Democrats and Conservatives have called for a public consultation on the move.
Police say the move will save millions of pounds, but concerns have been expressed about the reduction in service offered to communities.
In response to our report in yesterday's Herald that in the first five months of the new single force there was a 49% increase in officers leaving the service - excluding those who left due to retirement, ill health or end of service - Sir Stephen said officers were being proactively poached by the oil and gas industry.
He said others were leaving because of concerns about changes to pension plans.
The main reason cited by departing officers was, to go to other jobs, he said. Between April and last month the number of officers leaving specifically to "go to other jobs" has seen a threefold increase.
Sir Stephen described changes to police pensions as the "biggest dent to police morale".
"We know employment bureaux are targeting our officers in the north east," he said. "This happens in the islands too. We are working to tackle this."
He denied officers were leaving because of a target culture and said individual officers do not have targets, only divisions.