Prison Service staff are reluctant to release offenders on electronic monitoring devices for fear of making mistakes.

Colin McConnell, chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, said some officers suffer from "error terror", in case someone who is released goes on to commit a further crime.

Addressing the Justice Committee at Holyrood, Mr McConnell alluded to the murder of Craig McClelland, a father of three from Paisley who was stabbed by James Wight, who had 16 previous convictions and was "unlawfully at large" after removing an electronic tag just days after release on a Home Detention Curfew (HDC).

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He said: "The way things have gone recently ... in terms of individual events that have happened and the absolute focus on the service and its decision-makers and the incredible criticism that has been levelled against the service for these events.

"You will have heard the term 'error terror', and I think we are in a period right now where decision-makers in the service are concerned about taking decisions and if something is then to happen, to what degree will that individual be held accountable for what happens elsewhere?

"Individual decision-makers having to take into account lots of different information coming from different sources - contributors and professions are always in the position of making the best judgment possible, but not an infallible one.

"My advice to this committee and this Parliament would be to avoid the counsel of perfection.

"I worry that I hear a lot about that going around at the moment, that somehow there are magic, perfect solutions out there if we could only achieve them.

"I have to say to this committee: there aren't."

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Speaking after Mr McConnell, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said revised guidance on the use of the Home Detention Curfew "along with some political signals from the Parliament, that we think there is too much risk aversion in the system will hopefully help to rebalance HDC slightly".

"I don't necessarily envisage it going up to the numbers of 300 as it did previously - it might well do, but I don't envisage it. But, having gone from that to 37, I think most people would agree that the pendulum has swung too far the other way."

Reviews of the use of Home Detention Curfews were carried out in the wake of the murder of Mr McClelland.

Following recommendations from the reviews, the Scottish Government introduced a presumption against violent criminals being released on HDCs, and cross-party tributes were paid to Mr McClelland's family.