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Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances the police are permitted to retain records on juveniles who have been accused of an offence but against whom no further proceedings have been taken. 
Hazel Blears: Section 64 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 provides that fingerprints, footwear impressions and samples taken from persons suspected, at the time of taking, of having committed a recordable offence may be retained and used in connection with the prevention and detection of crime, the investigation of an offence, the conduct of a prosecution, or the identification of a deceased person or body part.
Section 64A(4) of PACE, provides that photographs of persons suspected, at the time of taking, of having committed a recordable offence may be retained and used in connection with the prevention and detection of crime, the investigation of an offence, the conduct of a prosecution, or the enforcement of a sentence.
Fingerprints, footwear impressions and samples taken with consent for elimination purposes from someone not suspected of having committed an offence must be destroyed after they have fulfilled the purpose for which they were taken, unless the person gives written consent for their samples to be used as above.
These provisions apply to both adults and juveniles and are irrespective of the outcome of the investigation. Chief officers of police have discretion on the retention of fingerprints, footwear impressions, samples and photographs.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how his Department is liaising with the Afghanistan Government to deal with the opium problem in Afghanistan. 
The UK, as designated partner nation for counter narcotics, has worked closely with the Government of Afghanistan since 2002. Recently, we supported the Government of Afghanistan in reviewing and updating its National Drugs Control Strategy. The strategy was endorsed by the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Counter Narcotics, at which HM Ambassador is an observer, and approved by President Karzai in January 2006. The strategy was launched during the Counter
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Narcotics (CN) session of the London Conference on Afghanistan on 31 January. It sets out four key priorities, which we believe will help make a greater impact on the trade and sustain the reduction in cultivation we have seen in 2005. These are: targeting traffickers; strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods; developing institutions; and demand reduction.
The UK is working very closely with the Government of Afghanistan to help build Afghan capacity to tackle the drugs problem. We are funding a £12.5 million Institution Development project to strengthen the Ministry of Counter Narcotics, established at the end of 2004, and other institutions in Afghanistan.
We have helped to establish and provide training for the Counter Narcotics Police of Afghanistan (CNPA)the lead drugs law enforcement agency, headquartered in Kabul with seven provincial offices. The CNPA is currently around 500 strong, but will be expanded further to give it the capacity to operate nationwide. The UK is also providing training for the Afghan Special Narcotics Force (ASNF), an elite and highly trained force equipped to tackle high value targets across the country. Since January 2004, the CNPA and ASNF have seized approximately 165 tonnes of opiates, destroyed over 264 drugs labs and made a significant number of arrests.
We are also working with the international community to recruit and train a counter narcotics Criminal Justice Task Force of Afghan investigators, prosecutors and judges to work with the CNPA, to be able to push through successful drugs investigations and prosecutions. The Criminal Justice Task Force is currently around 80 strong and made its first convictions in May this year for drug trafficking in Kabul. A new drugs law was also passed in December 2005.
As partner nation, the UK is also responsible for co-ordinating international assistance and encouraging the international community to increase their support to counter narcotics activity. To this end, we helped design the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund which was officially launched at the Afghan Ministry of Finance on 29 October 2005. The fund will enable the Government of Afghanistan to raise funds from donors specifically for the CN effort and gives them a greater say over how this money is spent.
In support of the Government of Afghanistan's efforts, the UK will spend £270 million over this and the next two financial years, including some £130 million on legal rural livelihoods and institutional development from the Department for International Development.
The identification of opium supply routes out of Afghanistan is based on seizure rates of opiates along the heroin trafficking routes. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's 2004 Afghanistan Opium Survey showed that of Afghanistan's total opiate exports (500 metric tons of morphine and heroin and close to 100 metric tons of opium), about a quarter
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is exported via Central Asia (the Northern" or Silk" Route), but the bulk is still exported via Pakistan and Iran to Turkey and into the Balkans, (the Balkan Route"). 90 per cent. of the drugs exported on the Northern Route" are for the Russian market. Most of the opiates exported on the Balkan Route" are destined for Europe. There is some evidence that the Caspian Route", from Turkmenistan across the Caspian Sea into the Caucasus, is increasingly being used to traffic drugs into Europe.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the estimated time scale is for eradicating poppy production in each region of Afghanistan; and what methods are being deployed to that end. 
Dr. Howells: Afghanistan has been the world's major supplier of illicit opium for a decade. It will take a long time to uproot something so deeply entrenched in Afghanistan's culture and economy. Without a strong state, a fully functioning judiciary or a properly trained and manned police force, Afghan capability to date has been limited.
In my view, and in the view of the United Nations that shares it with me, perhaps Afghanistan will need at least 10 years of a strong systematic consistent effort in eradication, in law enforcement and in the provision to the Afghan farmer of an alternative economy in order for us to be free of poppies by that time. So I would give it a decade, at least."
But progress is being made. Last year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported a 21 per cent. reduction in poppy cultivation from 131,000 hectares (ha) in 200304 to 104,000 ha in 200405. These overall percentages, however, mask significant variations between provinces. For example, Nangarhar (-96 per cent.), Badakshan (-53 per cent.) and Helmand (-10 per cent.) saw the most significant decreases, while other provinces, such as Balkh and Farah, saw increases. Progress was also made in 2005 with the establishment of a Ministry for Counter Narcotics in Afghanistan, the passage of vital counter narcotics legislation, the conviction of over 90 drug traffickers and the seizure of some 160 tonnes of opiates.
The Government of Afghanistan has, with the support of the UK as designated partner nation for counter narcotics, recently reviewed and updated its National Drugs Control Strategy to ensure its policy approach is the right one. The strategy, which was launched at the London Conference, focuses on four key priorities: targeting the trafficker; building institutions; strengthening rural livelihoods; and reducing domestic demand. The strategy also sets out the basis for a targeted ground based eradication policy and highlights the importance of raising
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public awareness and improving international and regional co-operation on counter narcotics. The UK is spending over £270 million over the next three years in support of the strategy.
Dr. Howells: The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) conducts an annual survey into the level of opium poppy cultivation and production in Afghanistan. In 2005, UNODC estimated a total of 104,000 hectares of land were under opium poppy cultivation, with the highest levels of cultivation seen in Helmand, Kandahar, Balkh, Farah and Badakshan provinces. Total production was estimated at 4,100 tonnes. These figures represent a 21 percent. reduction on cultivation and a 2.5 percent. reduction on production over 2004 figures. The smaller scale of the decrease in total production resulted from higher yields per hectare arising from good weather conditions and less disease. Full details, including the level of opium cultivation by province from 200205, can be found in the UNODC Afghanistan opium survey, November 2005, or on UNODC's website http://www.unodc.org.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the UK took over responsibility for controlling opium production in Afghanistan; and what progress has been made since then. 
Dr. Howells: The Government of Afghanistan is responsible for controlling opium production in Afghanistan. In April 2002, the UK took on G8 lead nation status for counter narcotics with responsibility for coordinating international activity in support of the Government of Afghanistan's counter narcotics campaign. Following endorsement of the Afghanistan compact at the London conference on 31 January-1 February, the UK remains fully committed to this work. We are spending £270 million over this and the next two financial years, including some £130 million on legal rural livelihoods and institutional development from the Department for International Development.
While we do not underestimate the scale of the challenge, progress is being made. Since the end of 2004, we have seen the establishment of a Ministry for counter narcotics; a 21 percent. reduction in the area of land under opium poppy cultivation; the passage of vital counter narcotics legislation; the conviction of over 90 drug traffickers and an increase in drug related seizures. The UK has also supported the Government of Afghanistan's work to update its national drug control strategy (NDCS) which was approved by President Karzai in January 2006. We believe the updated NDCS represents a more sophisticated approach to tackling the drugs problem which will help the Government of Afghanistan make a greater impact on the trade.
To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government prefers destruction, licensing or substitution
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by other crops to tackle poppy production in Afghanistan; and what budget his Department has allocated to each of these alternatives. 
Dr. Howells: The UK believes that the Government of Afghanistan's recently updated national drug control strategy represents the best means of securing a sustainable reduction on the production and trafficking of opiates in Afghanistan. The strategy highlights four key priorities. These are: disrupting the drugs trade by targeting traffickers and their backers; strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods; developing effective state institutions to combat drugs at the central and provincial level; reducing the demand for illicit drugs and treatment for problem drug users. The strategy also states that there is a role for targeted ground-based eradication where alternative livelihoods exist, in order to incentivise the shift away from poppy cultivation.
The UK does not carry out eradication, but we do support Afghan eradication activity where alternative livelihoods exist. We have therefore provided support to the planning, monitoring and targeting work of the Government of Afghanistan's central eradication planning and monitoring cell. We have also funded a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime project to verify governor-led eradication and provided funding to support targeted eradication by the Afghan national police.
The poor security situation in the country means there can simply be no guarantee that opium will not be smuggled out of the country for the illicit narcotics trade abroad. Without an effective control mechanism, a lot of opium will still be refined into heroin for illicit markets in the West and elsewhere. We could not accept this."
We do not believe that licensing opium cultivation in Afghanistan is a realistic solution to the problems of the opium economy in Afghanistan. In the absence of a strong state presence throughout the country there is currently too high a risk of diversion of legally produced opium into illegal channels, and overall levels of illicit cultivation could increase as a result.
Helping Afghan farmers develop viable commercial crops as feasible economic alternatives to poppy is an important part of the UK's support. But farmers also need access to credit, land and markets, alternative employment opportunities (on and off the farm) infrastructure such as irrigation and roads to help grow and transport produce; and government emergency mechanisms to ensure food security. The UK is supporting the Government of Afghanistan to deliver in all of these areas, to enforce the Afghan law against growing poppy and inject risk into the system through a credible drugs law enforcement and manual poppy field eradication threat. Only in this way will we make a sustainable impact on cultivation and production.
The UK will spend over £270 million over this and the next two financial years in support of the national drugs control strategy. During this period, £130 million will be spent on legal rural livelihoods (including research into alternative crops) and institutional development by the
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Department for International Development. In 200506 the UK spent £6 million in support of Afghan eradication and related activity and £30 million in support of activity to target the trafficker (for law enforcement and criminal justice action) and the top end of the trade. We envisage that similar budgets will be allocated to these activities in 200608. The UK does not support licensing and no budget was allocated to this as a result.
Dr. Howells: There are no reliable records of opium seizures in Afghanistan before November 2004. The counter narcotics police of Afghanistan and the Afghan special narcotics force have seized approximately 165 tonnes of opium since this date.
Dr. Howells: According to counter narcotics police of Afghanistan and Afghan special narcotics force figures, an estimated 317 drugs laboratories/sites in Afghanistan were destroyed between October 2004 and November 2005. There are no reliable records of the number of drugs laboratories/sites destroyed in Afghanistan before this time.
Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what financial assistance his Department (a) is providing and (b) plans to provide to the Afghan Government to tackle the problem of heroin production. 
Dr. Howells: On 5 September last year, I announced new UK funding for Afghan counter narcotics activity in a joint press conference with Afghan Counter Narcotics Minister Qaderi. In total, we will provide more than £270 million over the next three years (financial years 200506, 200607 and 200708). £130 million of the funding will be provided by the Department for International Development with the rest coming from other Government Departments including the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Ministry of Defence and the Home Office. Of the £270 million, the UK will contribute at least £30 million to the Counter Narcotics Trust Fund, which was set up specifically to support the National Drugs Control Strategy. We announced this contribution at the London Conference on Afghanistan, along with several other partner nations. The fund will bring counter narcotics funding on budget; give the Afghans greater ownership over this important agenda; and ensure that assistance is targeted as effectively as possible.
The funding will be spent on counter narcotics activity supporting the Government of Afghanistan in delivering their National Drugs Control Strategy. The strategy focuses on four key priorities: disrupting the drugs trade by targeting traffickers and their backers; strengthening and diversifying legal rural livelihoods; developing effective state institutions to combat drugs at
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the central and provincial level; and reducing the demand for illicit drugs and treatment of problem drug users.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what arrangements are in place for liaison between his Department and (a) UN Stabilisation forces and (b) Operation Enduring Freedom to deal with the opium problem in Afghanistan. 
Dr. Howells: There are no United Nations Stabilisation Forces in Afghanistan. The International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) is a UN-authorised NATO force designed to assist the Government of Afghanistan with the maintenance of security. ISAF's role in support of the Government of Afghanistan's counter narcotics campaign is set out in the counter narcotics annex of the NATO Operations Plan (OPLAN). NATO Ministers approved the revised OPLAN in December 2005. ISAF forces will be able to help with the provision of training to Afghan counter-narcotics forces and will when necessary provide support to their operations. They will also help the Afghan Government explain their policies to the Afghan people. ISAF forces will not take part in the eradication of opium poppy or in pre-planned and direct military action against the drugs trade. The British Embassy Drugs Team (BEDT) in Kabul works closely with HQ ISAF in deconflicting and informing the international military forces about counter narcotics activity.
Military forces operating under Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) are also authorised to provide support to the Afghan counter narcotics campaign. BEDT again works closely with the US OEF military headquarters, CFC-A, based in Kabul, to encourage coalition forces, as well as ISAF, within means and capabilities, to support the Afghan Government's National Drug Control Strategy. Liaison is particularly close on support for the counter narcotics information campaign and for day-to-day support provided to Afghan counter narcotics forces through the thirteen coalition Provincial Reconstruction Teams based around the country.
There is also a regular Afghan Government/UN/US sponsored forum in Kabul at which the five key pillars of Security Sector Reform (SSR) are discussed with representatives from the US (reform of the military), Germany (Police Reform), Italy (Judicial reform), Japan (disarmament and demobilisation) and the UK (counter narcotics). All five pillars of SSR are inter-connected and are significant in dealing holistically with the opium problem.
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