The first batch of prisoners to be released early from Scotland’s jails are being freed, officials have said.

Over the next four weeks between 500 and 550 inmates will leave custody to ease pressure on the country’s overcrowded prisons.

The move involves prisoners with 180 days or less to serve from a sentence of under four years.

It will not apply to people convicted of sexual or domestic abuse offences.

A Scottish Prison Service spokesperson said: “We have worked collaboratively with partners to prepare those approaching the end of their sentence for a supported early release.

“Governors have vetoed anyone they found posed an immediate risk to individuals or groups, with the help of intelligence from police and social work.

“The safety and wellbeing of people in our care, our staff, and the communities we support continues to be a key priority throughout, with information for victims and families available on our website.”

Proposals for early prisoner release were announced in May following an “unprecedented” rise in the prison population.

Want to see more SNP fails? – Health Matters

Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter and join the fightback against Scottish Nationalism.