OPERATION Engage was set up by police in 2006 after the problem of predominantly-Asian gangs preying on vulnerable white girls.

But since 2008 Engage has grown to investigate, and protect, those vulnerable to all kinds of sex grooming.

This is borne out by the fact that as many as 80per cent of all offenders dealt with under Engage are now white.

Last year it was revealed that 385 local young women had been offered protection under the scheme in two years, while 63 charges against suspected offenders had been secured.

Engage is now a respected nationwide authority on child sexual exploitation and operates a group approach, which includes Blackburn with Darwen Council social workers, police officers, the NHS and charities Lifeline, Barnardo’s and the Coalition for the Removal of Pimping.

Engage uses its members’ expertise to track down offenders who groom children for sex, while offering support and protection to young victims, and their families.