CONCEPTION RATE PER 1,000
England and Wales has the worst teenage pregnancy rates in Western Europe – six times higher than Holland and three times that of France.
And last month, ministers admitted they would not meet the 2010 target to halve teenage pregnancy rates.
There has been a reduction of only 11 per cent since 1998.
Critics blame the Government for increasing access to sex education and making contraception more freely available.
Underage girls can already get the morning-after pill from school nurses without their parents knowing.
Ministers also want it to be made available to under-16s in pharmacies.
Professor David Paton, who analysed the figures from the Department of Health, said the Government’s teenage pregnancy strategy is counterproductive.
“The underlying social deprivation of an area, family breakdown rates and religion seems to have a greater effect on teenage pregnancy rates than more obvious policies such as sex education or providing access to family planning.”
Professor Paton, an economist at the Nottingham University Business School, added: “There has been a tendency for the Government’s teenage pregnancy strategy to focus on creating schemes where teenagers can get the morningafter pill or other forms of family planning at school or clinics.
“The danger with this sort of approach is that it can lead to an increase in risky sexual behaviour.
“There is now overwhelming evidence that such schemes are simply not effective in cutting teenage pregnancy rates.
“An improvement in general education levels appears to be the most significant factor in reducing teenage pregnancies.”
According to the figures, the London boroughs of Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham are among the worst for pregnancies among girls aged 13-15.
Other local authority areas with high rates include the West Midlands boroughs of Stoke-on-Trent, Sandwell and Wolverhampton, and Easington in County Durham, Corby in Northamptonshire, Blackpool and Kingston upon Hull.
The areas with the lowest rates include Chiltern in Buckinghamshire, Ryedale in North Yorkshire, West Devon, Brentwood in Essex, South Northamptonshire, South Shropshire, Ribble Valley in Lancashire, Uttlesford in Essex, Hart in Hampshire, Epsom and Ewell in Surrey, and Cotswold in Gloucestershire.
In the borough of Lambeth, there are 19.5 pregnancies per 1,000 girls between 13 and 15 – almost one in 50.
Schoolgirls in Lambeth are almost 18 times as likely to get pregnant while still at school than those in Chiltern.
Of the 23,556 underage conceptions in England and Wales in the last three years, a total of 13,474 were aborted.
Dr Adrian Rogers, of the pressure group Family Focus, said: “It is absolutely vital that we start to teach teenagers that having a baby is nothing like having a fashion accessory like a new handbag.”
Children’s minister Beverley Hughes said: “I was disappointed to see that the rate of under-16 conceptions has increased very slightly this year.
“It is important to point out there will always be fluctuations in statistical data when they are looking at relatively small numbers and I am satisfied that the overall rate for under-18s is still going down.”
CONCEPTION RATE PER 1,000 GIRLS AGED 13-15
Lambeth – 19.5
Southwark – 17.3
Kingston upon Hull – 15.1
Lewisham – 15.0
Stoke-on-Trent – 14.6
Easington – 14.3
Blackpool – 14.1
Corby – 13.7
Sandwell – 13.6
Wolverhampton – 13.5
Chiltern, Buckinghamshire – 1.1
Ryedale, North Yorkshire – 1.8
West Devon – 2.0
Brentwood, Essex – 2.5
South Northamptonshire – 2.7
South Shropshire – 2.7
Ribble Valley, Lancashire – 2.8
Uttlesford, Essex – 2.8
Hart, Hampshire – 2.8
Epson and Ewell, Surrey – 2.8
Cotswold, Gloucestershire – 2.8