Legal affairs minister Paul Wheelhouse has backed new legislation to tackle the problem of so-called legal highs.

Mr Wheelhouse said he would meet with UK crime prevention minister Lynne Featherstone MP to discuss bringing the substances under legal control in Scotland.

He was speaking as the findings of an expert review group set up to look at the sale and supply of legal highs, or new psychoactive substances (NPS), was published.

The independent group recommended that the Scottish Government look to the model in Ireland, where the sale of psychoactive drugs are banned, and work with the Home Office to create new legislation.

The restriction and classification of drugs is currently reserved to the UK Government.

In a statement to MSPs at the Scottish Parliament, Mr Wheelhouse said he had accepted all of the recommendations made by the review.

He said: "There is a specific recommendation for new legislation to be introduced.

"I recognise and acknowledge the potential role of the UK Government in securing new arrangements to bring NPS under legal control.

"The Home Office have been helpful and co-operative in the work of the expert group and I will be meeting my counterpart Lynne Featherstone MP to press on her supporting us to bring these substances under legal control in Scotland.

"I am encouraged that the expert review concluded that there were a range of existing powers that can be used to tackle the sale and supply of NPS and that these can be made more effective. The practical work to progress these operational matters will now begin.

"I'm also clear on my commitment to ensure new legislation is brought forward as quickly as possible to put these substances where they belong, subject to criminal proceedings.

"As has been echoed in this chamber many times, the term legal high has been regarded as a misleading and unhelpful term.

"I hope that the chamber will support the findings of the report published today making the question of the legality of these substances very clear, identifying the harms they cause and putting, where appropriate, those who seek to sell them in the knowledge of the harms they cause behind bars rather than behind the shop counters in our high streets."

Mr Wheelhouse also backed the group's recommendations for further research on the prevalence and harm caused by NPS and for work on a proper definition of legal highs to help those working in the field.

He said a cross-party group would be set up to consider the work in more detail and oversee an increased effort to educate young people on the dangers and establish a national centre of excellence in forensic analysis.

Experts have also recommended that licensing authorities should attach conditions and restrictions in relation to the sale of NPS when issuing public entertainment or similar licenses.