How the Free Condoms Scheme will operate for Under 16s

It is important that young people under the age of 16 are able to access sexual health services, including free condoms, in order to prevent sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancy.

In the interests of ensuring that young people can access free condoms the current condom distribution scheme offers service access to 13, 14 and 15 year old young people.  The service is not open to young people aged 12 and under.

Some additional checks are required to ensure the safety and protection of young people.  Equally, services and agencies offering condoms to under 16s will want to ensure they are acting within the law and are offering a service that fits with young people's needs and expectations.

All services that are signed up to distribute free condoms are expected to provide condoms to young people aged 13-15 on the condition that they:      

  • follow guidance contained within this document
  • carry out a brief discussion with the young person as described within this document
  • agree to work within the National Guidance on Under-age Sexual Activity and/or local policy guidelines
  • have child protection procedures and policy in place (if the agency is not part of NHSGGC)
  • agree to attend training updates on operating a condom distribution scheme for under 16s
  • ensure that young people are made to feel supported, welcome and are not discouraged from accessing the service.

Services will be supported by the condom distribution service team and advice, updates and training will be provided as required. 

In situations where a young person under 16 approaches a distribution point and enquires about condoms the distributor should perform a routine enquiry to ascertain that the young person is not at risk. 

Under 16s are welcome to access the full range of condoms however packs of 3 standard condoms (STNx3) are available for distribution to this age group.  Distributors might want to use these smaller packs when;

  • They do not know the young person and the full details of their circumstances
  • The agency would like the young person to engage on a more regular basis
  • There are any concerns regarding the young person

Young people asking for condoms should not be turned away and in the above situations it may be better that they at least have a small supply of condoms to protect them from any immediate sexual health risks.  Where concerns are identified by a distributor, referrals to appropriate agencies should be made.

Distributors are asked to use the following flowchart and guidance notes to assist with their discussions when a young person presents at their service for condoms.

Supply Free Condoms to the Under 16's - Checking Procedures