Criminals including murderers will be sent to less-secure prisons following a report by a watchdog. HM Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland Wendy Sinclair-Gieben said more use must be made of open prison – and jails where inmates are handed the keys to their own cells.

Prisoners would also be given access to the community when they are in lowersecurity facilities, so placing them in softer conditions would help prepare more of them for release, she said. The findings of the Chief Inspector’s review were partly based on interviews with 600 prisoners – with many complaining about the length of time it takes to be moved to open jail.

The report comes ahead of the release of around 550 prisoners who are set to be freed early after controversial proposals from SNP ministers were approved by MSPs on Wednesday.

Scottish Tory justice spokesman Russell Findlay said: “Given past incidences of absconding, proper consideration must be given to any increased use of open prisons – public safety cannot be put at risk due to the SNP’s prison crisis.”

Scotland’s open prison is Castle Huntly, near Dundee, while so-called ‘top end’ facilities allow a ‘staged approach to community access’ – these are housed inside Greenock prison and Barlinnie in Glasgow – before prisoners ‘progress’ to the open estate.

Want to see more SNP fails? – Health Matters

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