IT is 40 years since Taggart first hit the screens and showed the dark underbelly of Glasgow to a worldwide audience.

The elaborate, some might say overly complicated, plots always seemed to involve an academic, a gangster, a Bearsden housewife, a random fisherman, a homeless addict and a night club, all of which were somehow intertwined in a murder.

Anyone who ever wants to know why Scotland’s largest city has suffered a population decline in recent decades merely has to watch back a few episodes.

Half the city have seemingly been murdered, while the other half are currently languishing in jail for killing them.

It is a similar situation in Inspector Morse, in which Oxford University academics spent several series murdering each other. There can’t be enough left to actually teach students any more.

Quite why anyone would still go on holiday with Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote is beyond me as she attracts killings like a cow does flies.

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And never get on a train with Hercule Poirot as you’re highly unlikely to get off at the other end.

Incidentally, something has always baffled me about Murder on the Orient Express screen adaptations – why does the train not stop and allow proper police officers on to investigate and remove the body rather than rattle through the countryside while a Belgian passenger investigates all by himself?

Regardless, crime dramas have always been among the most popular genres on TV and remain so to this day as seen with the huge viewing figures this year for the Happy Valley finale.

But crime dramas may have to take a different slant in the future if a new pilot scheme by Police Scotland is rolled out nationwide.

Senior officers have announced that some minor crimes will no longer be investigated as part of the project being piloted in the north east.

Police Scotland said it wants to give officers more time to focus on responding to emergencies and keeping people safe from harm.

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Now, call me old fashioned but the main role for the police for nearly 200 years has been to investigate crime and bring the perpetrators to justice, respond to emergencies and keep people safe.

But I appear to be wrong.

According to police, an example of where no further action may be taken is a garden theft with no CCTV or eye-witness evidence.

The new pilot has been described as a “proportionate response to crime”.

To others it is a criminals’ charter with police effectively waving a white flag. Citing budget cuts, Police Scotland has warned the levels of service it provides to the public in some areas will reduce, as a leading officer said “hard choices” were being made to “maintain effective policing within the funding available”.

Interim deputy Chief Constable Alan Speirs spoke out as a new report revealed how the time taken by the force to answer non-emergency calls to the 101 number had increased by three-and-a-half minutes.

There was a “de-prioritising” of these calls as the force saw the number of emergency 999 calls it received in the period April to June this year increase by 25.2% With a “real-term reduction in funding” being faced by Police Scotland in the coming year, the report said the force would be “seeking to refine our service”.

With officers dealing with “increasing call volumes and levels of crime”, Police Scotland said its response would have to be “more tailored towards the areas of highest threat, risk and harm”.

The detection rate for non-sexual crimes of violence, meanwhile, fell to 56.5% in the period April to June 2023, the report said, a drop of 7.8 points from the same time last year and 13.8 points lower than the five-year average.

Mr Speirs said the report covered a “challenging time for policing in Scotland”, adding that “those pressures will continue”.

It should be quite obvious to politicians that cutting budgets almost always leads to poorer service.

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When that service is provided by something as fundamentally important as the police then this can have extremely serious consequences for the public.

Being a victim of any crime is traumatic, regardless of its severity. To victims, budget cuts are irrelevant; they just want the perpetrator caught.

It is a very difficult balancing act for the police in the face of swingeing cuts but they do not really have a choice and that should shame ministers.

The upshot is that in future, Taggart will be left to say: “Nobody move, there’s been a low priority, non investigative crime committed.

"No seriously, nobody move - just concentrate on keeping people safe."