Doctors in Shetland are to be trained to examine sex crime victims after revelations women were being flown under guard to Aberdeen for tests.

Justice Secretary unveiled a new £76,000 fund to train GPs in rural areas to carry out such forensic examinations, starting in the northern islands.

The Scottish government will fund 50 places for local medics to complete a course in 2018-2019.

There have been growing concern that some victims may not come forward because they would be accompanied to major population centres. Some justice insiders have long warned of under-reporting of sexual crime and domestic abuse in tight-knit communities, perhaps with just one doctor.

Mr Matheson said: "It is vitally important that we do all we can to ensure that the process of gathering evidence of rape or sexual assault doesn’t cause more trauma to victims.

"I am pleased to hear first-hand the actions that NHS Shetland, Rape Crisis Scotland and others are taking to address a lack of provision in island communities.

“Making this training more accessible and this new funding for doctors to become qualified to carry out these examinations will mean that victims should no longer have to travel to the mainland for evidence to be taken.

"We also hope that it will encourage more female doctors throughout Scotland to come forward and become qualified to provide this service. As we learn from this pilot we can look at rolling this training out in more communities to ensure that services are improved across Scotland."

NHS Shetland is also offering all staff dealing with victims of sexual assault access to training, including sexual health staff and police officers, so that each member of the team fully understands the process.