The police regulator has signalled that it could block controversial plans to close control rooms in Inverness and Aberdeen.
The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) said yesterday that the findings of an inquiry into call handling at the force would be “carefully considered” before a final decision was taken.
The watchdog moved to provide reassurances after north-east Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald challenged the body to intervene.
Assistant Chief Constable Val Thomson provoked anger on Thursday by saying the police “remained committed” to the closures.
The statement was made despite a probe being ordered by ministers into the police’s handling of calls after a couple were found in their crashed car three days after a member of the public reported seeing the vehicle.
When police attended the scene John Yuill was already dead. His partner, Lamara Bell, was alive but critically ill and died in hospital days later.
Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) is now carrying out an investigation.
Mr Macdonald said: “The Scottish Police Authority are supposed to hold Police Scotland to account.
“It is time that they now stepped in and required Police Scotland not to take any further action towards closures at Aberdeen and elsewhere until the HMICS report has been published and considered.
“The SPA is responsible for the oversight of Police Scotland decisions, and it is vital that they are not posted missing when action needs to be taken.”
A SPA spokeswoman insisted that the closure plans were still to be rubber-stamped.
“SPA supports and welcomes the independent HMICS review of call handling now underway,” she said.
“SPA will ensure that any findings which may have implications for the existing programme will be carefully considered before any final decisions on the remaining phases of call handling reform are made.”
She added: “Further phases of call handling reform are scheduled to be progressed by the end of the financial year.
“As with previous phases, these change proposals are subject to the approval of the SPA twice – both before consultation can begin, and after consultation with staff has concluded.
“Subject to approval, consultation will take some months and this will allow for any proposals from staff groups, and the HMICS findings, to be fully considered.”