PRESSURE is mounting on police chief Sir Stephen House to resign following the death of a couple who lay in a car for three days after the crash was first reported to the force.

Acting Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray has added his voice to the calls for House to quit his post after the deaths of John Yuill, 28, and Lamara Bell, 25, in a crash off the M9 near Stirling on July 5.

Yuill is believed to have died instantly but Bell lay critically injured for around 72 hours before police acted on a second call to the scene.

Yesterday, Gray joined calls from the families of the bereaved for House to resign over the tragedy which follows a series of police controversies including the recent unexplained death in custody of Sheku Bayoh from Kirkcaldy.

“When trust and confidence in the police is endangered, someone has to be accountable, something has to change,” said Gray. “That is why I have said that the Chief Constable should reflect on his position, and resign.”

Gray said the M9 tragedy “clearly involves a failure in the handling of a call received by the Bilston Glen call centre. That call was not passed on to police in Stirling, where until January the call would have been dealt with locally.”

An urgent review of police call handling has been ordered by Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and will be carried out by the Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS).

An independent inquiry into the M9 accident is also being made by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc). However Gray added: “The Justice Secretary may have announced an inquiry following the M9 deaths, but he has prejudged it by simultaneously claiming that there are no systemic problems with call handling.

“Meanwhile both Mr Matheson and the First Minister have expressed their full confidence in the Chief Constable. In that, they are a dwindling band.”

Gray said the deaths followed a series of problems created by a “highly centralised single police force and the Scottish Government’s “unrealistic demands for savings”.

The amalgamation of the previous eight regional forces has resulted in the closure of some local contact centres and control rooms.

However House, who has said he is not stepping down until his contract ends in September 2016, claimed the “massive changes” were not to blame for the M9 case, although he admitted it was a “tragic situation” where “we’ve got things badly wrong”.

“We’re in the middle of massive change in our call-handling,” he said. “It’s been going on virtually since day one of Police Scotland and it has some way to go.

“I remain confident and convinced the reform we’re pushing through provides a more efficient and more professional service.

“The tragedy is that I’m saying this against the background of two people who have died and that’s been our error which we’ve acknowledged.”

House said he had considered leaving his post but decided “the right thing to do” was to stay.

“In anything like this I consider my position. I think you would be inhuman if you didn’t.

“I believe the right thing to do is to stay to get through this process, to get through this tragic event and the series of events that followed it and to see what can be done to fix the situation.

“I don’t want anyone out there thinking I’m the type of person that says ‘I’ll never go, I’ll have to be forced out’. If I come to the conclusion I should resign then I will resign. I don’t believe that’s the case at this moment in time.”

He added: “This organisation needs leadership. I’m providing that leadership.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said work was underway to “ensure a tragic incident like this cannot happen again.”

She added: “While we were informed the initial Police Scotland internal review did not suggest any systemic failure, it is precisely to ensure this was the case that the Cabinet Secretary for Justice has directed Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland to carry out a full review of all call handling and processes within Police Scotland’s Contact, Command and Control centres.

“The review will consider current capacity and capability, and clearly identify any issues so they can be promptly remedied and provide the answers we are all seeking.

“It is not appropriate to prejudge the results of this review or the PIRC investigation. It is important both are allowed to conclude so that all the facts are established.”