Police officers will not be diverted by Scotland's new hate crime laws from investigating serious violent and sexual crimes, according to one of the main organisations representing senior officers.

The Association of Scottish Police Superintendents (ASPS) made the intervention after Police Scotland published its first set of weekly figures since the legislation came into force on April 1.

It was revealed that the force received 7,152 complaints in the first week of operation, with 240 hate crimes and 30 non-crime hate incidents recorded, the force has announced.

The "vast majority" of these reports were anonymous, Police Scotland said in a statement and were assessed against the new legislation and "no further action is being taken".

READ MORE: Scottish hate crime laws see 7,000 complaints made in first week

Responding to The Herald which asked if there was concern that the high number of complaints and incidents recorded under the new act could divert officers away from investigating violent and sexual crimes, Stewart Carle, the general secretary of ASPS, said he did not.

"No, the service will continue to prioritise and respond to serious crimes, particularly those involving violence or sexual assault," he said.

"There is a clear prioritisation model that places crimes of violence and or threats to life at the highest level.  

"Where there is an underlying crime, for example assault, vandalism, breach of the peace been committed, and it’s assessed by further evidence to be motivated by hate against one of the protected characteristics, that will be reported as an aggravator to the original crime/offence."

READ MORE: SNP to give new cost for police bill after flaws in figures

He added: "What is diverting police officers from patrol and response is the burgeoning demands to respond to and care for vulnerable people where other agencies have failed to do so, e.g. mental health crises.  Inefficiencies in citing police officers to attend the courts also abstracts huge numbers of police from frontline duties every weekday."

The Herald asked if Police Scotland should be given extra resources to deal with the increase in the volume of work?  

Mr Carle said: "Police Scotland has seen a decrease in police officer and staff numbers in the past year whilst demands for policing services and support to other public agencies such as the NHS has continued to increase.  

"Where new legislation or newly identified policing priorities, for example cyber-crime, civic licensing and so on requires support for implementation, it is self-evident that additional resources will be required to meet increased demands.  That is an operational decision for the Chief Constable." 

The Herald revealed this week that the Scottish Government had under-estimated the costs of separate legislative reforms into how police complaints are handled.

New costings are to be given to Holyrood's finance committee after its members raised concern with civil servants about figures given in the financial memorandum for the police ethics bill.

Mr Carle drew attention to the issue and said it was important that "data and information in the financial memoranda produced by the Scottish Government for new bills must be accurate and realistic."

He said: "Too often, ASPS has seen under-reporting of the true costs of new legislation proposals, blanket 20 MPH speed limits, and currently the police ethics bill, as politicians strive to present the best outcomes for minimal expenditure so that a political aim is achieved.  Whilst understandable, it is unhelpful to under-estimate the true costs, both initial and ongoing, of new legislation which then impacts on other business priorities and finite budgets."       

Meanwhile, Scotland's Justice Secretary said the number of hate crimes recorded by the Police Scotland in the first week of the new law shows the need for the legislation.

Angela Constance said the force's systems are "coping well" with the number of reports.

She said: "So I think we can all take that reassurance from that because it is important when we look at the number of hate crimes recorded, 240 by Police Scotland in one week alone.

"I think that demonstrates that this legislation is indeed required and needed to protect marginalised and vulnerable communities most at risk of racial hatred and prejudice."

As well as the more than 7,000 online reports, police also dealt with 430 incidents in the first week where a hate crime tag was added, while there were 34 calls to either 101 or 999 relating to a hate crime and 141 emails sent to Police Scotland for the same purpose.

Nearly half of all the complaints made online were made on the first day, the figures showed, before the number of reports slowed later in the week.

Some 120 of the crimes reported had a racial aggravator attached, the figures showed, while 42 had an aggravator for sexual orientation, 38 for disability, 21 for both age and religion and eight for transgender identity.

More than one aggravator can be logged per recorded crime, according to the Police Scotland data.

But of these, 240 were recorded as hate crimes - 3.3% of all reports - while 30 were logged as non-crime hate incidents, meaning they did not meet the threshold for a criminal offence.

Slides produced by Police Scotland also showed two complaints made under the new act stemming from the Old Firm match on Sunday.

Concerns had been raised ahead of the legislation being enforced of both the impact on free speech and the readiness of officers to deal with it.

According to the slides, more than four out of five (80.49%) of officers have undertaken the two-hour training course on the application of the legislation.

A spokesperson for Police Scotland said: "This data highlights the substantial increase in the number of online hate reports being received since April 1.

"This significant demand continues to be managed within our contact centres and, so far, the impact on frontline policing, our ability to answer calls and respond to those who need our help in communities across Scotland has been minimal.

"All complaints received are reviewed by officers, supported by dedicated hate crime advisers, and dealt with appropriately, whether that is being progressed for further assessment, or closed as they do not meet the criteria under the legislation".