PUBLIC confidence in Police Scotland is "unravelling", it has been claimed as the chief constable faced renewed pressure to resign early.

Hugh Henry, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, spoke out after a series of revelations about the force and its watchdog, the Scottish Police Authority.

The pressure on the police and its watchdog follow the tragedy on the M9, when Lamara Bell, 25, died after being left in the wrecked car for three days after police failed to attend to a report of a crash.

She lay in the Renault Clio beside her boyfriend John Yuill, 28 - who was already dead when police reached the scene.

Yesterday a report said that police were warned about risks in cutting the number of centres handling emergency calls 18 months before the M9 incident.

A report in 2014 noted the potential problems of reducing the number of contact, command and control sites from 11 to four.

The report warned of "disadvantages" to the scheme, adding: "Due to the wide geographical dispersal of sites, any reduction to the number of sites creates challenges in retaining existing experienced staff within this operation area."

Last week it emerged that East Command Area Control at Bilston Glen, said to have taken the message on the M9 crash, had an absence rate of 10 per cent a month before the incident.

It has since emerged that two-thirds of staff at the call centre had applied for voluntary redundancy before the tragedy. Around 88 out of a workforce of 138 applied to leave in January.

More than 53,000 working days at Police Scotland have been lost to stress in the past two years, according to figures from Scottish Labour.

Between January and March this year, more than 10,000 absences were recorded due to anxiety and depression.

It also emerged yesterday that that the board of the Scottish Police Authority was split over the performance of its chairman, Vic Emery, who has separately announced he is to stand down. Sir Stephen House is due to leave next year.

But Hugh Henry, Labour’s Shadow Justice Secretary, said: "It is becoming clear that the events leading to the tragic deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell were not isolated incidents.

"Officers and members of the public are coming forward to reveal a force in crisis with people across Scotland, in some cases, waiting hours for a response.

"It now appears that the police were warned that the closure of call centres could lead to the loss of experienced staff.

"Public confidence in Police Scotland is unravelling.

"The only way to restore confidence is for Sir Stephen House to do the right thing and resign with immediate effect."

Scottish Labour's legal affairs spokeswoman Elaine Murray also repeated a call for Sir Stephen to resign immediately.

A Scottish Police Authority spokesman said: "The creation of Police Scotland and the SPA is the largest public sector reorganisation since devolution. A programme of organisational change of that scale is not completed overnight and we understand that has meant officers and staff working though periods of transition and with some uncertainty.

"The SPA takes its responsibilities as an employer very seriously. SPA meets regularly with all the staff associations and unions about issues affecting their members, and the continuing wellbeing of our workforce is rarely ever off the agendas of those meetings.

"We will continue to work closely with Police Scotland to develop work around improving wellbeing, and in particular ensuring that the views of the workforce expressed in the staff survey shape future plans to make policing an employer and workplace of choice."

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "The Scottish Police Authority and Police Scotland ... provide a range of support service to help officers and staff in what can be a stressful job.

"The recording and management of sickness absence for police officers and staff is a matter for the SPA and Police Scotland. Sickness absence is reported to the SPA Board regularly, with papers published on the SPA website."

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner is examining the M9 tragedy while Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland is carrying out a review of police call handling.