PRISON visitors have warned of a "wholly unsatisfactory" lack of clarity on when a new monitoring regime for Scotland's jails will be introduced.

The Visiting Committee for Greenock Prison in ­Inverclyde said uncertainty mean nationwide training schemes for prison visitors were largely inactive.

The Scottish Government earlier this year announced plans to put in place an independent ­monitoring system to replace Scotland's existing prison visiting committees.

Four new prison monitors, under HM Inspector of Prisons, will be supported by volunteers.

The Scottish Government said it expected that the system, which will be monitored by human rights groups, would be running by next autumn.

However, the Greenock Committee said: "We have been affected by the uncertainty affecting the future of visiting committees.

"Although the future shape of monitoring within prisons has now been decided, the lack of clarity on a timescale is wholly unsatisfactory.

"That uncertainy continues to affect training. National training remains largely inactive although foundation training is still being provided for new visiting committee members or those in need of a refresher."

Labour opposed plans to shut down visiting committtees last year. Its then justice spokesman, Lewis Macdonald, called the move an insult to all those concerned.