An extra layer of protection from online threats will be offered to the area's MSPs when the Scottish Parliament monitoring service goes live in April.

It is part of efforts to protect elected representatives following the death of Sir David Amess MP, who was killed while meeting constituents at a surgery in Essex last year.

The service, which MSPs will have to opt in to, is designed to automatically detect threatening comments made to them on social media.

The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) said an information security analyst will be recruited for a two-year trial, with concerns escalated to Police Scotland if appropriate.

The update was issued to MSPs on Friday as they were informed the system, which searches for abusive and threatening language using key words, would give them early notice of potential threats when it launches on April 1 next year.

The Scottish Parliament began a security review in November 2021 and MSPs can now claim up to £2,500 to pay for security upgrades to their constituency homes and Edinburgh accommodation.

Members can also request that police review the security of their homes and, if any upgrades are needed, they can quickly claim up to £2,000 for their constituency homes and £500 for their accommodation in the capital.

A Scottish Parliament spokesperson said: "The SPCB is acutely aware of the rising level of online abuse and intimidation towards elected representatives.

"From April 2023, we will be trialling an in-house service that will identify key words and potentially-threatening language relating to MSPs on social media platforms.

"Members will expressly have to opt into the service, which would operate on their behalf.

"Any issues of concern picked up by the service would be escalated to Police Scotland as appropriate."

The social media monitoring service will complement an existing security service which includes the provision of lone worker devices for MSPs and their staff.

Southend West MP Sir David was stabbed more than 20 times during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea on October 15 last year.

In April, a jury at the Old Bailey, in London, convicted IS fanatic Ali Harbi Ali of murdering the politician and preparing acts of terrorism.

Ali stabbed 69-year-old Sir David after tricking his way into a meeting by pretending to be an NHS employee moving to the area.

He was given a whole-life sentence, as opposed to a life sentence with a minimum term, which means he will not be considered for parole and will never be released from prison.