Scotland's police force has cut short a three-month trial on the Isle of Bute which slashed overnight cover, following public outcry.

Police Scotland launched a new regime on May 17 putting officers on call rather than on shift from 12am to 8am during the week and from 2am to 8am at weekends. 

Emergency calls were directed to staff at a Glasgow call centre who would then alert local officers to respond, drive to the station and get kitted out in uniform.

Police Scotland said the revised model, which reduced the number of shifts from five to three, would increase the number of officers at “key times” and said it was being tested at a time of high demand when visitor numbers on the island are highest.

READ MORE: Police were 'afraid of night duty' on island trialling new approach 

Chief Inspector Sam Glasgow said the existing overnight shift system created "unacceptable risks" for police and went so far as to say her staff were afraid to go out on night duty. 

However, the new approach and reduction in police cover sparked an angry backlash from the community.

Gary Steele, a retired police sergeant, who spent 17 years in the senior role on the island, described the regime as "an open invitation for criminals".

The scheme was due to run for three months but Police Scotland confirmed it will end ahead of schedule.

READ MORE: 'I sympathise with islanders': Police whistleblower says public 'not getting service they deserve'

A message on social media shared by Argyle and West Dunbartonshire Police said officers would return to normal shift patterns on July 31.

Police Scotland said a full evaluation is now underway and "any learning" would inform future models.

In response, Bute Independent Councillor Liz McCabe said: "The alternative police model was shocking and was supposed to last for three months - glad it's been cut short.

"There was absolutely no community input, despite myself asking if this was happening since October."

READ MORE: Alan Simpson: 'We urgently need more police, even if they are afraid of the dark

It comes after a police whistleblower warned staffing cuts have left officers at breaking point and quitting the force.

The senior officer told The Herald the area he worked in often had as few as seven police covering a population of around 250,000 people.

He said three of four "good cops" a month were quitting and around 40 officers had been absent with stress-related illness over the past two years.

The whistleblower said he sympathised with islanders and officers involved in the three-month pilot.

"As a police service at the moment we are a complete waste of time," he said.

"The public isn't getting the service they deserve and the police aren't getting the job they deserve. 

Superintendent Neil MacDougall said: “The policing model piloted on Bute has concluded and we will carefully consider what we have learned.

“The wellbeing of officers and staff and the safety and security of the public remain our priority.”

The Bute model is already in operation on Mull but experts says the bigger island has a different demographic and challenges. 

Figures released in 2022 show the number of police in Scotland has reached its lowest level for almost 14 years with almost 700 officers having quit the force in the last year alone. 

Police Scotland had 16,610 full time equivalent (FTE) officers in its ranks at the end of June 2022 – the lowest number since the creation of the single national police force.