Offenders have been handed police cautions for serious offences including rape and sexual offences, it has been revealed.
A Freedom of Information request from The Gazette showed 46 offenders on the Fylde coast have been cautioned by Lancashire Police for sexual offences in the last five years.
And five offenders who have admitted rape have escaped with just a caution.
But, after the Government announced it wanted to review the types of offences being cautioned, the force has defended its actions.
Chf Insp Steve Sansbury said the cautions for the offences represented less than one per cent of those handed down by the constabulary, and said it was the “appropriate outcome in correct circumstances”.
The rape cautions were given to two 17-year-olds in 2009 and 2008, two 15-year-olds in 2009 and December last year, a 16-year-old in 2010.
And Chf Insp Sansbury said: “While all sexual offences are treated seriously, a caution can be an appropriate outcome in the correct circumstances. Examples of the sexual offences for which people have received cautions include drunken young men who have exposed themselves in licensed premises or public, a drunken male who has pinched the bottom of a paramedic from whom he was receiving treatment or two friends with learning difficulties, where the male has touched the female’s breast.
“As you can see from these types of cases, they are responded to by the police and are treated seriously but also as sensitively and appropriately as possible.
“In a very small number of cases a caution is the appropriate outcome based upon the circumstances of the incident.”
The force said the cautions for rape had been issued in circumstances where the teenagers were involved in consensual but under-age relationships with youngsters of a similar age.
In the five years between January 2008 and January 2013, the force issued more than 40,000 cautions across the county.
On the Fylde coast, 84 people were cautioned for possession of weapons.
And now the government has announced there will be a review into the use of police cautions amid concerns they are being used to deal with repeat offenders and those who commit serious crime.
Chf Insp Sansbury added: “In deciding whether someone is cautioned, Lancashire Constabulary applies the Home Office Guidance issued in 2008. Each case is assessed against that guidance, the specific circumstances of each offence and the background of the offender.
“If they have similar previous convictions or there are aggravating factors to the offence then they are highly unlikely to receive a caution.
“They must also admit the offence to receive a caution.”
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) said the review followed calls for “greater public confidence and transparency in police use of cautions for repeat offenders and for those who commit serious crimes”.