A scheme to help prisoners re-adjust to life in the community after they are released has been working to prepare those who could be released early due to coronavirus measures.

The Scottish Parliament passed a law that included being able to release some prisoners who are in the latter stages of their sentence, if there was an outbreak in prisons.

Humza Yousaf, Justice Secretary said it would only be used as a last resort and that people serving life or convicted of sex offences would be excluded and it would only apply to those with less than three months of a short sentence remaining.

Concerns have been raised that some prisoners would be disadvantaged though lack of support and preparation for release.

Social services are stretched and there has been concerns about provision in normal times.

The Wise Group runs a mentoring service to help reduce the chances of re-offending among those short-term sentences.

It said it has started contacting those who potentially could be released early if that decision is taken.

A spokeswoman said it has identified all those due for release in the next six months and begun to contact them.

She said 150 prisoners have already been contacted in just two days, to explain how the scheme could help.

A task group has been set up for if an when a decision to release is made and to try to prevent anyone being released without support.

It includes a letter given on release and sent to the home address they are to be released to and a freephone hotline for anyone who needs help.

The scheme co-ordinates with Sacro, Apex, Families Outside, Turning Point and SAMH.

The Wise Group collaborates with DWP, Turning Point, Simon Community, Four Square, local authority homeless teams and local addiction teams to put prisoners in touch with vital support for accommodation, additions and benefits.

A spokeswoman for the Wise Group said: “The picture is evolving daily and we’re doing everything we can to make sure that we’re there to act as the virtual superglue that binds people to the support they need after leaving prison in unprecedented circumstances.”