Fewer women could be sent to jail under new sentencing guidance.

Judges will be encouraged to consider community sentences instead of short prison sentences of 12 months or less, which the Scottish government thinks are ineffective.

Around 90% of women sent to prison are given a custodial sentence of a year or less and Scotland has one of the highest female prison populations in Northern Europe.

Humza Yousaf, Justice Secretary, said extending the presumption against short prison sentences would mean more women, many of whom have experienced abuse and addiction problems, would receive a community-based sentence.

Mr Yousaf will give evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee tomorrow.

He said: “By extending the presumption to 12 months or less we are asking judges to give serious consideration to community alternatives that prioritise rehabilitation.

“Many of the women currently serving prison sentences have complex needs that contribute to frequent offending.

“We should be helping them tackle those problems in the community so they can escape prison’s revolving door, rather than taking away what stability they have in their home and family.