The Scottish Government has been accused of "burying their heads in the sand" and massaging figures to avoid dealing with alleged shortcomings in Scottish policing.
There is a "democratic vacuum" in the new single police force, according to the Liberal Democrats.
Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill and the 13 Government-appointed civilian members of the new Scottish Police Authority (SPA) have too much power, Lib Dem justice spokeswoman Alison McInnes told MSPs at Holyrood.
Crime also rose by 3% last year, according to the Conservatives, but this was allegedly masked because some offences were "omitted" from official figures.
But Mr MacAskill said there is "no so-called democratic deficit" in Police Scotland and added that police figures were compiled "on the same basis that has been handed down by our predecessors".
Holyrood's Justice Committee has found dealing with the SPA "frustrating", Ms McInnes said, describing them as "an unelected board appointed on the say-so of Scottish ministers".
"The Government has handed 13 people a billion pound budget and oversight of Scotland's entire police service," she said.
"But we must ask: who watches the watchmen? As it is, Parliament has been circumvented. We had no role in the appointment of the SPA, we are confined in how we can scrutinise them and we were ignored in strengthening the law.
"So, so much for democracy in the new police service. All the power is in the hands of the Cabinet Secretary."
She said a disagreement between Chief Constable Stephen House and SPA chairman Vic Emery over human resources "has snowballed out of control". The two men had been arguing for months over who should control police staff until an agreement was brokered by the Scottish Government in January to allow them to share staff on the basis of operational need.