LABOUR has called for a full government review of remand after an analysis by the party found remanded prisoners were more likely to die than those serving sentences.

The party said remand prisoners accounted for 27 per cent of deaths over the last 10 years, yet represented only 18 per cent of the prison population last year.

The most common cause of death was suicide (31 of the 71 remand deaths from 2008 to 2018), however another 21 causes have yet to be officially determined.

The majority of remand prisoners are awaiting trial, and therefore not proven guilty.

Holyrood’s Justice Committee has questioned whether remand is always properly justified.

Only 40 per cent of prisoners remanded on summary proceedings and 70 per cent of those remanded on solemn proceedings receive a custodial sentence.

Labour MSP Daniel Johnston said: “In many cases remand is completely appropriate, such as for those charged with serious violent crime who may present a risk of reoffending.

“However, Holyrood's Justice Committee has heard evidence that questions whether there is always proper justification for remanding prisoners prior to trials.

“A significant proportion of those held on remand don’t go on to receive a custodial sentence including more than half of those remanded in summary proceedings.

“Remand is being used too frequently, with all the resulting disruption to work, family and routine. The fact that these prisoners are much more likely to die while in prison requires serious examination.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Decisions on whether to remand in custody or grant bail to an accused person ahead of trial is a matter for the independent court within the overall legal framework agreed by Parliament.

Scotland’s bail laws have been strengthened in recent years, including enhanced penalties to deal with any person who breaches bail conditions.

“We welcome the recent Justice Committee’s report on remand and will consider its recommendations. The Cabinet Secretary has further said he will keep an open mind to justice proposals coming forward from any political party.”