All prison visits have been suspended in a bid to prevent the spread of coronavirus through Scotland’s jails.

The Justice Secretary, Humza Yousaf, announced the measure together with other plans to keep the justice system running through the pandemic as cases increase across the country.

Mr Yousaf said there were “robust plans” in place for prisons and local governors were in charge of implementing them, which could even see some prisoners released.

He said “preventing the spread is the priority".

Last week our sister paper the Glasgow Times reported that Barlinnie and other overcrowded jails was a disaster waiting to happen.

The Scottish Prisoner Advocacy & Research Collective (SPARC) says jails are creating the “perfect” conditions for the rapid spread of the virus.

He told the Scottish Parliament: “The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has suspended prison visits. It is a decision that was not taken lightly.”

Mr Yousaf said: “Maintaining family contact is crucial and SPS is working on other options to maintain family relationships.”

He said digital and telecommunications were being investigated.

He also said that the release of some prisoners was also being looked at as a future measure if there was significant staff absence within the prison service.

The justice secretary said: “Prison is a very difficult environment. He added that staff absence means “every positive measure” has to be looked at.

He said: “We can’t rule out releasing prisoners. That will be actively explored.”