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Paul Goggins: The Prison Service does recognise its duty to care for older prisoners and seeks to meet all their needs, including, medical and any special accommodation requirements, according to individual circumstances. Establishments that are holding older prisoners have developed local strategies and there are a number of excellent initiatives being adopted across the estate.
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Paul Goggins: Assessing the reliability of evidence in whatever form is a matter for the courts. However, the Government are concerned that the public should have full confidence in the integrity of all evidence, including electronic evidence, and are determined to ensure that appropriate guidance and procedures are in place to support it. In March 2002, the Police Scientific Development Branch of the Home Office, in conjunction with the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), published the guidance document, Digital Imaging Procedure. This is now in use across the criminal justice system in England and Wales.
The document sets out detailed guidance for operational, administrative, and judicial staff on the procedures that should be followed to ensure that digitally captured images can be accepted as evidence throughout the Criminal Justice System. Among other matters, the document includes guidance for audit trails to ensure the authenticity and integrity of the evidence, and how to protect the 'Master' image. The procedure does not rely on 'electronic' protection but neither does it preclude its use: as the guidance points out, there are several methods for 'electronically' authenticating an image file.
However, in the case of digital images captured by unattended roadside traffic enforcement cameras, the use of electronic protection is made mandatory by non-statutory guidance in the form of a document issued by the Police Scientific Development Branch entitled "The Speedmeter Handbook". This is because the image is the only evidence of an offence having taken place. The method of protection used is one that is based on techniques used to secure banking transactions.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to introduce electronic evidence sealing technology into (a) investigation of relevant crimes and (b) his Department's electronic communications. 
Paul Goggins: The Government are concerned that the public should have full confidence in the integrity of all evidence adduced in criminal proceedings, including evidence in an electronic form. Unattended roadside traffic enforcement cameras are required to be of a type approved by the Secretary of State, and the digital images they capture are protected electronically. A method based on techniques used to secure banking transactions is used for this purpose.
The 'Digital Imaging Procedure', which sets out best practice guidelines for ensuring the acceptability in court of all other digital images as evidence, does not rely on electronic protection of images but neither does it preclude its use. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) has also produced a good practice guide on electronic evidence to provide advice and principles for police forces in dealing with all electronic evidence. We are determined that appropriate and effective procedures and guidance should be available to ensure the admissibility in court of other kinds of
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electronic evidence, and are satisfied that this is currently the case. These matters are, however, kept under constant review.
Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what problems have been experienced with home detention curfew; and what adjustments will be made to the programme to combat them. 
Paul Goggins: My reply of 22 January 2004, Official Report, column 1438W, provides details of the success of the Home Detention Curfew (HDC) scheme, which is monitored on a continual basis. I am satisfied that the scheme continues to work well.
The Government are committed to the HDC scheme but it is important to keep it under review, extending it where sensible and appropriate while keeping a proper balance in terms of public safety and confidence. On 14 January 2004 I introduced a further safeguard to ensure that public confidence in the scheme is maintained. Prisoners who have been involved in notorious crimes will not be released on HDC unless the chief executive of National Offender Management Service is satisfied that their release will not undermine public confidence in the scheme.
Paul Goggins: Guidance on reporting restrictions in the Youth Court is contained in the Youth Court 2001 The Changing Culture of the Youth Court Good Practice Guide which was published jointly by the Lord Chancellors Department and the Home Office in 2001 While there are no current plans to revise or reissue this guidance it will be kept under review.
Mr. Dawson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has held following the Munby Judgment with (a) the Minister for Children, (b) local authority associations and (c) local authorities about the application of the Children Act 1989 to young people in custody. 
Paul Goggins [holding answer 11 February 2004]: My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and I met the Minister for Children on 27 October 2003 to discuss the report of an official working group on the application of the Children Act 1989 to young people in custody.
The working group comprised representatives of the Youth Justice Board, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Social Services. The Home Office and the Department for Education and Skills had observer status. The group
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met a number of times between February and August 2003 and produced its report in September. I am placing a copy in the Library.
Following the meeting on 27 October, it was agreed that the Youth Justice Board would provide an additional £1 million to fund extra social worker places at Young Offender Institutions. The new staff will be responsible for ensuring that the duties placed on local authorities by the Children Act are fulfilled.
Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received regarding section 55 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002; and if he will make a statement. 
Beverley Hughes: Between 1 October 2003 and 18 February 2004 60 representations have been received from hon. Members since the end of September 2003 and 21 letters from members of the public about section 55. The Refugee Council also made representations in meetings with Ministers.
Section 55 of the 2002 Act, which came into force on 8 January 2003, is one of a range of measures designed to reduce the number of asylum applications. It is reasonable to expect asylum seekers to make their claim on arrival or very shortly afterwards. Section 55 prevents the provision of support (including emergency accommodation) where the claim is not made as soon as reasonably practicable after arrival in the United Kingdom. In practice, claiming
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