THE number of teenage pregnancies in Wirral has continued to fall, latest figures show.
The figures reflect the national picture; Office for National Statistics data shows fewer than three-in-100 teenagers aged 15 to 17 became pregnant in 2012 - the latest year for which figures are available - a 10% decrease on the year before.
In Wirral, the data shows a steady decline over three years in teenage pregnancies: from 276 in 2010 to 195 in 2012.
Hilary Pannack, chief executive of teenage pregnancy education charity Straight Talking, welcomed the fall in conception rates but sounded a note of caution.
She said Government, local authorities and charities have worked hard to reduce teenage pregnancies.
But the figures are two years old and since then, a great number of council staff with experience and expertise have gone.
She said: “High youth unemployment can make teenage parenthood seem like an attractive life choice in times of recession and with local authority service cuts, we need to drive even harder if we are to keep the rates from rising again.
“We cannot afford to be complacent about these good results as there is a new cohort of young people coming along who need education and support to avoid teenage pregnancy and parenthood.
Councillor Chris Meaden, cabinet member for health and wellbeing, said: “I’m pleased to see that our efforts to reduce the number of teenage conceptions in Wirral are succeeding, but there is clearly still a huge amount of work to do.
“Education for both young people and people working with them is key to tackling this issue.
“We have developed a comprehensive multi-agency approach to support our young people and professionals, which has included initiatives such as drop-in clinics at our secondary schools through the Health Services in Schools Programme and the outreach work of Wirral Youth Theatre, to raise awareness of the huge responsibility that starting a family entails.
“We are also engaged in a workforce development training programme to equip staff with the skills needed to discuss sex and relationship issues with young people.
“All public services are under financial pressures at the moment, and our development of a refreshed approach to teenage conception, and consultation work with young parents and with key partners will help us to manage resources, and demand for our services.
We’re satisfied that our work in this area is seeing results, but we can’t be complacent.”
Straight Talking believes lessons in relationships and sex education now need to be made statutory in schools.
Ms Pannack added: “This is an area where the state and the third sector both have a role to play to make sure that the work continues to be done and that we can keep those figures falling.”
The rate of pregnant teenagers having an abortion stands at 48.7% cent - meaning in 2012 there were 13,555 teenage terminations.