Long-term prisoners in Scotland could be released after serving one third of their sentence under Government plans.

The Scottish Government has been wrestling with a rising prison population in recent months, with a programme of early release currently under way for more than 500 inmates.

But announcing the move earlier this year, Justice Secretary Angela Constance said more was needed to impact the population over the long term.

A consultation published on Monday showed non-violent and non-sexual prisoners could be allowed out under licence after serving one third of their sentence; this would be a return to the policy from before February 2016.

Currently, prisoners are eligible to be released under licence six months from the end of their sentence.

Those who are given an extended sentence – where a court enforces a period in prison followed by supervision after release – will also not be eligible.


Ms Constance said: “Supervision is a commonly used element of custodial sentences – as part of efforts to prepare individuals nearing their return to the community to settle and ultimately to not re-offend.

“Our proposals would bring forward the point at which long-term prisoners are released so individuals spend more time under licence conditions in the community before the end of their sentence.

“Individuals would continue to serve their sentence but do so in the community under strict supervision, which can improve reintegration back into society and reduce the risk of re-offending.

“We are considering these measures to find a better balance between the time spent in custody and time supervised in the community, particularly following the recent increase in the prison population when Scotland already has one of the highest in Western Europe.

“Public safety will be paramount. Release under licence conditions means strict community supervision and specific support in place informed by robust individual risk assessments of prisoners.

“These measures would be introduced through legislation, requiring debate and the approval of Parliament. I invite people to share their views.”

The consultation will close on August 19.