Landline phones will be installed in prison cells, including Barlinnie and Low Moss, for the first time, the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) has confirmed.

SPS said the move will support family contact, mental health and well-being as well as reduce the risk of reoffending.

The scheme will cost £8.5 million and people in custody will receive 200 free minutes per month.

Maintaining contact with friends and family, particularly children is crucial to prisoners and their loved ones, the prison service said.

Landline phones will replace prison-issued phones which were distributed during the pandemic.

Scottish Conservative deputy justice spokesperson, Sharon Dowey MSP, said: “Humza Yousaf has finally abandoned his policy of handing out free mobile phones to prisoners after years of wasting taxpayers’ money on the naive scheme.

“However, the SNP are making all the same mistakes again. The claim that these new devices for prisoners will have the same security as the previous phones, which were routinely hacked, will not fill anyone with confidence.

“Criminals exploited those free mobiles to carry out firebombings and drug deals, so the SNP must explain what robust measures are in place to stop prisoner phones from being misused again.

“The public needs guarantees that this scheme will not turn out to be another embarrassing disaster that wastes millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money, just like the last phones for prisoners scheme.”

SPS say the hard-wired, in-cell telephones will be subject to robust security which means inmates will only be able to call numbers from a pre-approved list.

Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs, Angela Constance, said: “The introduction of landline telephones in cells is a welcome development by the Scottish Prison Service and marks a continuation of Scottish Government investment in modernising our prison estate.

“This will help people in custody maintain contact with friends and family, including their children, which we know is crucial to their rehabilitative journey.

“It will also pave the way for in-cell education and give people in custody greater responsibility for their own lives – and will help ensure safe and stable prison environments.”

Teresa Medhurst, chief executive of the Scottish Prison Service, said: “This is an important milestone for the Scottish Prison Service, which has the potential to deliver tangible and enduring benefits for those in our care and their families, staff, the wider justice sector, and Scotland as a whole.

“It is an example of how the SPS is taking the lessons learned in the extremely challenging circumstances of the Covid pandemic to improve the service we provide.

“I would like to thank all those colleagues who have worked so hard to deliver this.”