Crimes with “no associated threat, risk, harm or vulnerability” and no lines of inquiry will not be investigated by police in a new pilot.
Police Scotland announced the initiative in the north-east region on Monday, citing cuts to the police budget in recent years.
The Scottish Government – which funds but has no operational control over the force – said it was “vital” it retains trust and relationships with communities.
In an announcement on Monday, police have said the pilot mirrors how officers worked in the Grampian region before the founding of Police Scotland and stressed if any risk, harm or vulnerability is identified, “appropriate measures” will be taken.
An example of a crime where no action could be taken would be a theft from a garden without CCTV or eye-witness evidence.
The new process, police said, would allow those who reported a crime to find out quicker if no action will be taken and free up officers to investigate other crimes, respond to emergencies and keep the public safe.
Divisional commander Chief Superintendent Graeme Mackie said: “The pilot process will enable local police officers to focus on those crimes that have proportionate lines of inquiry and potentially enable them to give more time to local concerns and priorities in the area.
“We also know that sometimes people simply want to report a crime and we want to provide that service efficiently.
“Please continue to report crime in your area.
“Local officers will continue to review closed reports to enable them to map local crime trends and this may mean an inquiry is reopened and investigated.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “While these decisions are a matter for the Chief Constable, it is vital Police Scotland continues to inspire public trust and maintains relationships with local communities.
“This will be crucial when the results of this pilot are examined to ensure local priorities continue to be met with no detriment to communities.
“The Scottish Government has increased police funding year-on-year since 2016-17, investing more than £11.6 billion since the creation of Police Scotland in 2013, despite difficult financial circumstances due to UK Government austerity.”
Opposition parties have raised concerns about safety, with Scottish Tory justice spokesman Russell Findlay saying: “The SNP government’s decision to impose severe and sustained cuts on police budgets has depleted policing across Scotland, with the fewest number of officers since 2008.
“Police Scotland should be applauded for being so candid about the reality of their predicament, but communities deserve better than the SNP’s weak approach to justice and shabby surrender to criminals.
“Ministers must be up front with the public about whether this policy will potentially be rolled out elsewhere in Scotland.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Liam McArthur said: “The police are being forced to make terrible choices because the Scottish Government have expected them to do so much with so little for so long.
“The SNP’s botched centralisation of policing and brutal cuts have hit officer and staff numbers hard.
“To cut crime and deliver for communities, Scottish Liberal Democrats would enhance community policing and ensure that officers have both the support and resources they need to do their jobs.”