Three prisoners from West Dunbartonshire have been released early from Scottish prisons because of the pandemic, new figures reveal.

The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) confirmed the inmates had been let out of jail or youth detention, while a governor’s veto was used in two more cases to prevent early release.

Across Scotland, there were 154 given early release and another 23 cases vetoed.

Another 241 prisoners will be considered by June 1 in a bid to help protect prison staff and inmates from any spread of Covid-19.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf described the figures as “positive progress” and said it has “helped to make prisons safe environments”.

The first early releases took place on May 6, according to an SPS report, and none of the prisoners involved showed symptoms of Covid-19, which would have delayed their release.

The data shows 21 prisoners from Glasgow City were released, followed by 17 from Fife,  14 from Edinburgh and ten from South Lanarkshire.

A further eight prisoners released were from outwith Scotland.

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The releases follow new legislation introducing powers for the early release of a specific class of inmates in Scottish prisons.

This includes short-term prisoners nearing the end of their time in custody.

The scheme is limited to those sentenced to 18 months or less and who on had 90 days or less left to serve as of April 30.

Release of prisoners under the regulations is subject to exclusions to ensure public protection, such as those who are imprisoned for life or with convictions for sexual offences, domestic abuse or terrorism offences.

Meanwhile, the latest SPS figures indicate a total of 24 prisoners were self-isolating across nine institutions on Tuesday with one confirmed coronavirus case.

The deaths of six inmates have been linked to coronavirus.

The statistics indicate there were 811 members of staff absent across the SPS as of Friday, which is 18.3 per cent of the workforce.

A total of 532 – 12 per cent of those off – were absent due to Covid-19.

This includes those who are symptomatic, self-isolating, shielding or caring for family members.

A total of 40 of these staff, 0.9 per cent of the total workforce, are reported to be showing symptoms.