MORE than 50 men have been issued with ‘abduction notices’ to stop them approaching children in East Lancashire.

Police said the notices were used as a ‘shot across the bows’ by officers when there was evidence of concerning behaviour by potential abusers.

They are given when behaviour is seen to be a significant risk but falls short of a prosecution.

It stays on the offender’s police record in case of future reports.

The notices are handed to people who are found with a ‘potential victim’, and can ban them approaching any child. For example, a letter can warn the person not to stop and talk to under-age children in his car.

Officers said they had also ‘protected’ almost 200 youngsters from child sexual exploitation during the past six months.

Specialist team Engage in Blackburn with Darwen, Hyndburn and Ribble Valley, has identified 134 victims and Freedom in Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale, has helped 61 victims.

The team has also identified 44 individuals involved in sexual exploitation of which 32 were white, 11 Asian and 1 other.

Of those, 20 have been arrested, five charged and 21 abduction notices issued.

Pennine’s Freedom team, which has dedicated police, children’s services and a health nurse, has identified 13 individuals, of whom five are white and eight asian.

They have made 10 arrests leading to one charge and issued 33 abduction notices.

Public Protection Superintendent Ian Critchley said there had been an increase in referrals and victims in East Lancashire and the county as a whole because of the work done in schools and communities to encourage potential victims to come forward.

He said the priority is to arrest offenders of all types of ‘abhorrent’ child abuse, whether street grooming, online or within the family.

He added that abduction notices were a ‘valuable’ response to prevent and target child sexual exploitation.

Assistant Chief Constable Andy Rhodes said: “Lancashire Constabulary has worked closely with other agencies over the past six years to tackle the issue of child sexual exploitation.

"We recognised that there was an issue in relation to on-street grooming of young people by adults who have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect or status.”

Jack Straw, Blackburn MP, said: “These figures show what a great job Lancashire police is doing and the effectiveness of the Engage programme.

"The breakdown by ethnicity is consistent with what I’ve said all along, that the majority of perpetrators of this type of crime are white.

"But I maintain that there is an issue and a specific problem within some areas of the Pakistani community.”

Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle said: “I think it is shocking that in 2011 so many of these types of offences go on.

"That number is staggeringly high and I hope the authorities do everything in their power to clamp down on this sort of thing.”