Contraceptive implants and injections for girls under 16 has nearly TRIPLED in the past decade

The use of contraceptive implants and injections among under-age girls has nearly tripled in a decade, figures show.

Some 8,400 teenagers aged 15 or under received the long-acting treatments on the NHS last year – up from just 3,100 in 2004/05.

In total, 58,700 under-16s were given either an implant or contraceptive jab in English sexual health clinics over the past ten years, at rates that have steadily risen throughout that period.

Sex is illegal under the age of 16, but contraceptives are not and can be prescribed without parental consent.

Health experts insist this policy is essential to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Teenage pregnancies have dropped to their lowest level in nearly 70 years, according to statistics published earlier this month.

But campaigners warn that the ease of access to contraceptives encourages under-age sexual activity, putting teenagers at risk of disease and exploitation.

The figures, compiled by the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre, show that 5,400 girls under the age of 16 received contraceptive implants in 2013/14.

Of these, 1,800 were 14 or younger. The implant is a thin tube which sits below the skin in the upper arm for up to three years, releasing a steady dose of the hormone progesterone, which prevents pregnancy.