POLITICIANS and union leaders want the resignation of Scotland's top cop to prompt an in-depth review of the single force.

As reported in late editions of yesterday's Evening Times, Sir Stephen House will stand down from his post in three months time – bringing forward his departure by nearly a year.

His decision came amid a spate of controversies surrounding Scotland's single force.

In recent months, the 57-year-old has come under increasing pressure over his handling of certain cases, including the death of Lamara Bell and John Yuill who lay in a crashed car for three days despite a call being made to police.

Critics have also hit out at Sir Stephen over the death of Sheku Bayoh, from Fife, who died while in police custody, as well as the decision to have armed officers on patrol and Police Scotland’s stop and search policy.

Scottish Labour's justice spokesman Graeme Pearson, said Sir Stephen's decision to go was "the right thing to do".

The former Deputy Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police added: "I would like to extend thanks to Sir Stephen House for his years of service.

"However, we know the problems in Police Scotland extend far beyond the Chief Constable.

"It was only a few weeks ago that the First Minister gave her full backing to Mr House, and now the SNP Government can no longer hide behind him.

"Police Scotland has had to endure months of controversy which has seriously damaged public confidence in the police service.

"This could have been avoided if Ministers had taken responsibility.

"Even now it isn't too late for Nicola Sturgeon and her invisible Justice Minister to get a grip."

Sir Stephen, who was previously the Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police, expected to leave the position when his four year contract expired in September of next year.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie previously called on Sir Stephen to “change his ways” or go.

He said yesterday: "Decapitating the Chief Constable won’t solve the deep rooted problems in Police Scotland.

“A new chief carrying on as if nothing is wrong will cement the problems rather than solve them.

“The early resignation of Chief Constable Stephen House reveals the chaos at the heart of Police Scotland.

“Yet, this isn’t about the job of one man at the top but recovering the fortunes of the wider police force which is in the doldrums.

“Ultimately the SNP Government must accept responsibility for this chaos."

His colleague, Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes urged the SNP government to "think long and hard" about the short comings of Police Scotland before it advertises for a new Chief Constable.

George McIrvine, branch secretary of Unison Police Staff Scotland, said: "We disagreed on some decisions he made but the problems with Police Scotland are not down to one person.

"Sir Stephen House was given the impossible task of merging Scottish policing into one police force, while having to meet political targets of 1000 extra police officers, and at the same time introducing £1.1 billion efficiency savings target.

"Sir Stephen House should have publicly called on the Scottish Government to scrap all political targets and called for proper funding of our police service.

"Maybe now we can have a proper discussion about these issues.”

Mr Pearson added: "Police Scotland has been an organisation without proper oversight for too long, and has had to endure cuts from the SNP Government which have left the force under resourced and over worked.

"Officers and staff work round the clock to keep people safe.

"The controversy of this summer has dragged their reputation unfairly through the mud.

"The process of reforming Police Scotland can begin now if the SNP Government are willing to take responsibility for their mistakes."

However, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon thanked Sir Stephen for his "years of dedicated service".

She said: "Strong policing has ensured recorded crime is at a 40-year low.

"Sir Stephen provided leadership at a crucial time and his strong focus on tackling violent crime made a major contribution to that achievement.

"I also recognise his powerful and long-standing focus on tackling domestic violence and sexual crime.

"Reform of policing in Scotland was absolutely vital to sustain the policing upon which Scotland's communities depend and Sir Stephen's contribution to that was invaluable."

Sir Stephen made the announcement at the Scottish Police Authority board meeting in Stirling yesterday morning.

He told the meeting: "I would like to thank the chairman in particular, as this is his last public board meeting, and the members for their contribution during Police Scotland’s first years and I wish you well in continuing to work together to deliver a policing service that Scotland can be proud of."

Brian Docherty, chairman of the SPA, said: "Sir Stephen has made a monumental contribution to policing.

"Many people feared that a single police service could be susceptible to political interference and those who have called for the head of the chief constable as some form of trophy need to consider that."

Sir Stephen oversaw the amalgamation of Scotland’s eight regional police forces into the single national force.

During his time, he coordinated the policing of last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

President of the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, Chief Superintendent Niven Rennie, said:"Sir Stephen has successfully brought together eight legacy forces, the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement.

"This was the biggest challenge in our policing history and it was his leadership and commitment that took it from a vision to a reality."