Officers are increasingly using evidence from social media sites to solve traditional crimes, such as rape, but are being hampered by the length of time it takes to gather evidence from international Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
Every week police are having to ask the Crown Office to request information from abroad because the web servers or social media sites that hold evidence of criminality are based overseas.
"We are operating sometimes with 19th century legal principles and 21st century crimes," said Detective Superintendent Steven Wilson, head of Police Scotland's Cyber Resilience Group. "Where the service provider or chat forum is based in a foreign country, often in these circumstances we are having to go through the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty process.
"It is a prosecutor to prosecutor request. If the forum is in America, for example, we would have to go to the fiscal to ask them to go to prosecutors in the United States to have that recovered and obviously that can be quite time consuming.
"A lot of the information is not held in the computer, it is held by the server. What you are doing is making applications to identify IP addresses and that allows the case to progress.
"Where you have offensive material that can also be taken down by the host provider."
The concerns follow the deaths of several teenagers following cyber bullying.
Detectives are investigating the death of a 17-year-old from Dunfermline, Fife, amid claims he threw himself from the Forth Road Bridge after falling victim to a scam on Skype in which users are blackmailed.
In England, Hannah Smith, 14, was found hanged at her home in Lutterworth, Leicestershire, on August 2, and is thought to have killed herself after being bullied on a website.
Mr Wilson added: "We are working as well as we can with the system but are always looking to improve things. We would very much like more international cooperation to allow for real time transfer of data.
"It (cyber crime) is really integral to everything we are trying to investigate. More people are living their life on the internet and are totally dependent on it for their everyday existence. We are working to keep our communities safe. More and more, the whole social networking side of it becomes part of keeping our virtual communities safe online. "
Social media sites include Twitter, which has about 200 million followers, is based in America.
Officers now receive specialist training in how to tackle cyber crime and gather evidence online. Police are also working with schoolchildren, businesses and parents to try to reduce online crime.
Detective Inspector Andrew McWilliam, head of the cyber unit for Scotland West, said there was also some concern about whether Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty requests in relation to cyber bullying would be accepted.
"The information may look like it is on your phone or Twitter account, but it's not," he said. "It is on the company server and that is in America.
"We have had cases where we have worked with the US authorities in particular, but there really is compliance only at the highest levels of criminality.
"A lot of people now use cloud storage (data stored on remote servers accessed from the internet) to store information elsewhere. The information we are looking to find may be stored somewhere remotely and criminals have used chat rooms rather than email."
A Crown Office spokesman said: "Prosecutors take into account all the facts and circumstances when considering a case. Social media and the evidence obtained from it plays an increasingly important part in the prosecution of cases and we will use it wherever it assists us."