Assistant Chief Constable John Neilson’s initial report, published yesterday, highlights the problems of covering officers taking part in events and competitions.

However, he says efficiencies introduced since 2007 have already seen total funding for the pipe band – which is paid for through the police budget – reduced by 78%.

The cost, which was £42,477 in the 2007/8 financial year, now stands at £9235. But, as income generated by the band through performances is £5000, the total cost to the force has been cut to £4235.

However, the report for the Scottish Police Authority says that “no matter how much income is generated [by performing at commercial events], it is never sufficient to cover the cost of abstractions to frontline policing.”

In particular, it cites the clash between the increased policing demand on weekends for ‘A’ Division in Glasgow with the fact that the “vast majority” of band commitments take place on a Saturday or Sunday.

The time spent travelling to and from the city centre practice venue as well as actual practice time – approximately four hours in total – means, according to the report, that “there is little margin for effective operational deployment of the pipe band members on practice days”.

A full review of the pipe band is currently under way, led by Mr Neilson. He is due to report his findings to Chief Constable Stephen House at the beginning of November.

The report says efforts to “strike a more appropriate balance between musical and operational commitments” have seen the average hours officers spend on operational duties increase by 32% in two years, from 1137 in 2007 to 1508 in 2009.

The “more operationally focused” approach is “consistent with an efficient and effective delivery of operational policing”, it adds.

It is also consistent with pressure to maximise savings after Mr House admitted last month that Scotland’s largest police force was facing an “absolutely dire” funding crisis, with a budget shortfall of up to £34.7m in 2010/11.

At best, he said, the deficit would be £12.4m.

However, the squeeze on the band – a Grade A standard pipe band – has provoked outrage in the piping community. In February, The Herald revealed concerns that the future of the band – founded in 1883 as Govan Police Pipe Band – was being jeopardised by the drive for cost savings, after it emerged that it would only be allowed to play at two of the big five events in the pipe band calendar.

The band was subsequently told it could take part in all five events, but restrictions remained. In June, Stuart McMillan, SNP MSP for the West of Scotland, and Robert Wallace, principal of the Glasgow College of Piping, delivered a petition with more than 3000 signatures to Mr House, calling on him to rethink restrictions on practice sessions and competitive engagements.

“[They’re] not just a pipe band, they’re a national treasure,” said Mr McMillan. “Any attempt to hamper what the band can do will certainly diminish the band’s capabilities and credibility.”

There are currently 11 full-time members of staff in the band, topped up with around 30 guest players – typically retired officers or officers from other forces.