MORE than £18 million seized from criminals is to be used to fund projects that divert disadvantaged young people away from crime.

The Cashback for Communities scheme reinvests criminal cash in community projects that support young people, helping keep them away from criminal or anti-social behaviour.

The next phase of funding will take total investment in the Scottish programme to almost £110 million since it began in 2008.

CashBack has funded a variety of projects in the past 11 years including the Celtic FC Foundation, the National Autistic Society and Impact Arts which all provide opportunities to raise the attainment, ambition and aspirations of young people from areas of deprivation.

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Ash Denham, Minister for Community Safety said: “We want every young person growing up in Scotland to have an equal chance of success no matter their circumstances – CashBack has a vital part to play in expanding young people’s horizons and helping them reach their full potential.

“Since Cashback for Communities began in 2008 we have delivered nearly two-and-a-half million activities and opportunities for young people across all local authorities in Scotland.

“The next stage of CashBack will have particular focus on projects that support young people and communities most affected by crime.

“I’m pleased to say that we have increased funding for this latest phase by £1m – taking the total amount available over three years to £18m.

“The numbers of children referred to the Children’s Reporter on offence grounds or prosecuted in the courts have fallen substantially over the last decade and our Cashback programme supports that progress by giving many of Scotland’s most disadvantaged young people a wide range of positive opportunities to challenge themselves.”