More than £2 million seized from criminals is to be invested in projects to create life-changing opportunities for vulnerable young people.

Around 25,000 youngsters a year are expected to benefit from the projects over the next three years, the Scottish Government said.

The CashBack for Communities funding will be invested by national youth work agency YouthLink Scotland in projects that aim to empower young people and guide them towards a more positive future.

Minister for Children and Young People Aileen Campbell made the announcement as she visited the Green Shoots project in Edinburgh today.

She said: "Youth work is a hugely effective force for good for hundreds of thousands of people and the perfect way to reinvest the CashBack for Communities funding.

"This money will help offer activities, skills and training opportunities and, most importantly, a place to turn for many young people facing difficulties or at a crossroads in their lives.

"Investment in youth work is not just the right thing to do; it is the smart thing to do. I am lucky to have seen first-hand the difference youth projects make in giving young people confidence to make their voice heard, seize the opportunities in front of them and make the right decisions for themselves and their families."

The CashBack for Communities programme takes the gains of crime, recovered through the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, and invests them into community programmes, facilities and activities largely, but not exclusively, for young people at risk of turning to crime and anti-social behaviour as a way of life.

Jim Sweeney, chief executive of YouthLink Scotland, said: "Over the last five years, CashBack for Communities has created a generation of local superheroes, giving power back to young people and their communities by using the cash seized from criminals as a force for positive change.

"This money has helped young people access life-changing youth work opportunities which has given them more optimism for the future and has proved to many young people that they can achieve their ambitions despite difficult life circumstances."

YouthLink Scotland will receive £2.09 million over three years.

Since 2007, more than £74 million seized through the Proceeds of Crime Act has been put to use through CashBack for Communities, funding around 1.2 million activities and opportunities for young people, the Scottish Government said.