Hundreds of police officers have been moved out of local units and into centralised jobs.
There are 60 fewer officers based in Tayside and Fife divisions than there were when the force merged in 2013, according to official figures.
It has triggered claims that the SNP has forced the decline of the beat bobby by failing to properly fund Police Scotland.
Daniel Johnson, the Labour MSP, said: “Communities across Scotland are crying out for more police officers, but these figures reveal the scale of centralisation that has gone on since the formation of Police Scotland.
“While there has been a small rise in the number of officers since the last quarter, it is nowhere near enough to reverse the SNP’s systemic underinvestment in local policing, with more and more officers being syphoned off local beats to regional and national roles.”
Mr Johnson added: “This loss of local police officers in Tayside comes on the back of news that Dundee firefighters are being routinely sent out of the city to cover gaps elsewhere.
“Dundee is clearly losing out from the SNP government’s centralisation of our emergencies services.”
The drop in frontline cops in Tayside and Fife from 1,807 to 1,747 comes as the national force increases by 161 officers and regional units are up by 79.
Across the country, there are 326 fewer police officers based in local divisions than there were five years ago.
Police chiefs say they must adapt to changing trends, including soaring rates of internet crime and the increased threat from terrorism.
Insiders point out that officers taking up roles in regional or national units does not necessarily mean they are moved out of the geographical area.
David Hamilton, from the Scottish Police Federation, said there is a lack of officers across local, regional and national units.
“Demand since 2013 has increased massively as we have more and more responsibilities put upon us,” he said.
“We now have huge teams dealing with historical sexual abuse, we have specialists in human trafficking and much increased cybercrime requirements.
“All of these require additional police officer resources – resources that have not been forthcoming.”
A spokesman for Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said Labour are attacking the single police force that they supported introducing.
“Under the SNP officer numbers will remain well above the level inherited from Labour in 2007, which contrasts with a reduction of almost 20,000 officers in England and Wales,” he said.
“These extra officers are supported by the Scottish Government’s commitment to protecting the police resource budget in every year of this parliament – a boost of £100 million by 2021.
“We have also continued police reform funding for a further year, with an investment of £31m planned to support the implementation of the Policing 2026 strategy.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Our frontline includes officers in less visible, but vital, areas such as investigating organised crime, cyber crime and child abuse.”