£3m fund to support victims of human trafficking
2 April 2018, 06:21 | Updated: 2 April 2018, 06:23
More than £3 million is to go towards supporting victims of human trafficking in Scotland.
Two of the country's key organisations dedicated to helping victims are to share the funds over three years, as part of efforts to improve services.
The number of trafficking referrals to Police Scotland has steadily increased in recent years, with 2017 seeing a rise of 38%.
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."
Funds will be shared by Migrant Help and the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (Tara).
Both organisations support suspected victims of trafficking identified in Scotland.
Tara cares for women who suffer sexual exploitation as a result of the crime, while Migrant Help assists all other adult victims.
The news comes in the same week regulations will see the minimum period of support for such victims doubled to 90 days.
Bronagh Andrew of 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 £439,921 in 2018/19, £430,198 in 2019/2020 and £437,111 in 2020/2021.
Meanwhile, Migrant Help will get £590,159, £601,962 and £614,001 in those successive years.
In 2017/18 the organisations received £317,510 and £465,454 respectively.