Funding boost for human trafficking support groups
Charities which support victims of human trafficking are to receive more than £3m from the Scottish government.
Migrant Help and the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (Tara) will share the funds over three years, as part of efforts to improve services.
The announcement follows new figures showing a marked rise in reports to police in Scotland of suspected human trafficking.
In 2017, there were 213 referrals to police - up by 42% on 2016.
The most significant rise was in suspected cases of labour exploitation - up 64% - with over half relating to male victims.
Tara cares for women who suffer sexual exploitation as a result of the crime, while Migrant Help assists all other adult victims.
The funding boost comes as new regulations come into force which double the length of time the Scottish government must provide assistance to trafficking victims. It is now a minimum of 90 days.
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said: "Human trafficking is an appalling abuse of human rights.
"This horrific crime affects the most vulnerable in society and has lasting consequences for its victims.
"Some will need long-term care and support following their ordeal, meaning that we must do everything we can to aid victims."
Bronagh Andrew, from Tara, said: "Women require long-term help to recover from the abuse they have survived and this increase in resources will enable us to continue to improve our efforts to establish a solid foundation to help women on their journey.
"Women have told us that support needs to be ongoing and that they value the assistance they receive."
Phil Dailly, Migrant Help's national operations manager, added: "The longer support period will have a positive impact on our clients' recovery.
"It will give us more time to address individual needs and enable them to regain confidence and prepare for a new positive chapter in their lives."
Tara will receive £440,000 in 2018-19, £430,000 in 2019-2020 and £437,000 in 2020-2021.
Meanwhile, Migrant Help will get £590,000, £602,000 and £614,000 in those successive years.
In 2017-18, the organisations received £317,500 and £465,500 respectively.