The number and rate of under-18 conceptions in Barnet for each year from 1997 to 2005 (the latest year for which data are available) are provided in the table as follows.
Number Rate 1997 171 30.2 1998 137 24.2 1999 162 28.9 2000 154 27.9 2001 143 25.4 2002 192 34.1 2003 177 31.3 2004 203 35.4 2005 167 29.0
The baseline year for the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy is 1998. Since then, the under-18 conception rate in Barnet has risen by 19.9 per cent. This is at odds with the trend in England as a whole—where the under-18 conception rate has fallen by 11.4 per cent.—and in contrast to areas that have similar population characteristics to Barnet, which have achieved impressive reductions. For example, the under-18 conception rate in Merton has fallen by 33 per cent.
To tackle the wide variation in progress across England, we have issued guidance to local authorities and primary care trusts on the key ingredients of successful local strategies—based on evidence of what works from the local areas which have made most progress. This evidence identified that successful strategies need to have in place
Active engagement of all of the key mainstream delivery partners who have a role in reducing teenage pregnancies—Health, Education, Social Services and Youth Support Services—and the voluntary sector;
A strong senior champion who is accountable for and has taken the lead in driving forward the local strategy;
The availability of a well publicised young people-centred contraceptive and sexual health advice service, with a strong remit to undertake health promotion work, as well as delivering reactive services;
A high priority given to PSHE in schools, with support from the local authority to develop comprehensive programmes of sex and relationships education (SRE) in all schools;
A strong focus on targeted interventions with young people at greatest risk of teenage pregnancy, in particular with Looked After Children;
The availability (and consistent take-up) of SRE training for professionals in partner organisations (such as Connexions Personal Advisers, Youth Workers and Social Workers) working with the most vulnerable young people; and
A well resourced Youth Service, providing thing to do and places to go for young people, with a clear focus on addressing key social issues affecting young people, such as sexual health and substance misuse.
I am asking areas like Barnet—where rates are increasing or progress is slow—to use this guidance to review and update their local strategies. This work is being supported by Government Offices which are providing appropriate support and challenge to each the local area. As part of that approach, we are encouraging all areas that are significantly behind trajectory to consider including teenage pregnancy as a priority in the Local Area Agreements that they are currently negotiating with Government Offices. The aim is to accelerate progress in all areas to the levels of the best. If all areas had performed as well as the top quartile, the national reduction would be 2 per cent. more than twice the reduction actually achieved.