Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has insisted there is no crisis in Scotland’s prisons, although he conceded there are “significant challenges” to be dealt with.

Opposition MSPs challenged the Justice Secretary on overcrowding, saying jails were “bursting at the seams”.

Mr Yousaf also faced questions about the number of assaults on prison service staff, telling Holyrood he would “keep an open mind” about introducing body cameras for prison officers.

READ MORE: 'Shocking' report from torture committee says disturbed women in Scottish jail need hospital not prison

He said he had previously raised the issue of body cameras with both the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) and the Prison Officers Association (POA), adding the latter was “not particularly persuaded” of the need for the devices.

Pressed by Conservative justice spokesman Liam Kerr on the issue, Mr Yousaf said: “I will keep an open mind to exploring that issue with both the Prison Service but also with the Prison Officers Association.

“It is fair to say with my last conversations with the POA in Scotland they were not particularly persuaded.

“I have raised it before with Scottish Prion Service but I will commit to do that again because I can see in many instances it could be a welcome move, so I will keep an open mind to that.”

Mr Yousaf spoke out in the wake of a report from Audit Scotland, which found jails were operating “well over” capacity, there had been “significant” increases in assaults by prisoners against staff and stress-related sickness among workers rose by nearly a third in 2018-19.

HeraldScotland: Experts have warned some prisons, like Barlinnie in Glasgow, are 'dangerously overcrowded'.Experts have warned some prisons, like Barlinnie in Glasgow, are 'dangerously overcrowded'.

Labour’s James Kelly said there was a “crisis in overcrowding in Scottish prisons”.

“The reality is our prisons are bursting at the seams and at the same time the revenue budget has been reduced by £50 million over the last four years,” he said.

Mr Kelly demanded to know what would be done to tackle “unacceptable” overcrowding at HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow, saying more than 90% of inmates there are being kept two to a cell despite them being designed for one person.

Mr Yousaf said he shared the concerns about Barlinnie, telling MSPs: “I do not think the facilities we have there, particularly when the prison is almost 150% over capacity are facilities we should be proud of in a modern progressive country.”

READ MORE: Barlinnie faces 'shocking' overcrowding, prison bosses warn MSPs

With a replacement for the prison still a “number of years away”, he said he has asked the SPS to come up with interim measures to improve facilities there.

The Justice Secretary said: “I wouldn’t classify what we have in our prisons as a crisis, I certainly say there are challenges and they are significant challenges.

“But it is down to the hard work and dedication of our prison officers that we still have prisons that are well maintained and are safe for the staff and prisoners.”