SEXUAL offence cases are to be fast-tracked by prosecutors and the courts to help victims.

The Scottish Government will invest an extra £1.1m in the justice system to speed up the system, amid a rise in the number of reported sexual crimes.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service will get £800,000 and the Scottish Courts and tribunals Service £300,000 to deal with the growing caseload.

The aim is to cut the time for cases to come to court and improve information to complainers.

The number of reported sexual crimes has risen steadily since 2010, with much of this due to the increase in reporting rates for historic offences.

Rape and attempted rape accounted for 17% of sexual crimes in 2016-17, when there were 1,878 recorded incidents of rape, a 4% increase from 1,809 in 2015-16.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Many victims of sexual offences are understandably anxious about the criminal justice process and there is a risk that without appropriate support and reassurance the prosecution process can compound their trauma.

"We are providing this extra funding to help ensure cases reach court as quickly as possible and to improve communication with victims.

"Despite the recent increase in sexual offence reports we know that such crimes continue to be under-reported. This additional funding is just one of the actions we have put in place to help give victims confidence to report crimes by ensuring they are offered support at each step of the process.”

Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC said: "The additional funding responds to the current and projected growth in reports of sexual crime, and the changing profile and complexity of these cases.

"It will be directed to reducing the time before court proceedings commence, and to improving the provision of information to complainers.

"This reflects the Crown's commitment to improving the experience of victims of sexual crime in the criminal justice system; and to the effective and rigorous prosecution of sexual offences."

Courts chief executive Eric McQueen added: "The additional £0.3m will allow trials to start at the earliest opportunity and minimise the need for trials to be moved to other court locations, where it is not in the best interest of the complainer or witnesses.”