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(3) how many members of staff are employed by the prison and probation ombudsman; 
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Mr. Blunkett: The office of prisons ombudsman for England and Wales was established in 1994 under the previous Conservative Administration following the report by Lord Woolf and Sir Stephen Tumim on Prison Disturbances (Cm 1456) and the White Paper "Custody, Care and Justice" (Cm 1647). The remit was extended on 1 September 2001 to encompass complaints both from prisoners and those supervised by the National Probation Service (NPS). The office was re-titled prisons and probation ombudsman.
The prisons and probation ombudsman is independent of the Prison Service and National Probation Service. The ombudsman is appointed by the Home Secretary and reports to him. The ombudsman investigates complaints from prisoners, and those on license or otherwise under probation supervision, regarding aspects of their treatment. Complainants must first have sought redress through use of the internal Prison Service or NPS complaints systems. The number of complaints has increased rapidly over the last two years. In 200102, 1,100 complaints were investigated.
(3) what the cost of the Strategic Policy Team was in the last 12 months; 
(4) what the remit is of the Strategic Policy Team. 
Mr. Blunkett: The Strategic Policy Team was established in August 2000. Its role is to support Ministers and the Home Office Board by developing overall strategy, and individual policies and cross cutting work. Estimated outturn operating costs in 200102 were £0.9 million. The Strategic Policy Team is a mix of civil servants, secondees and a small number of people with specialist skills on short-term contracts. There are usually between 20 and 25 members in post.
(3) what the cost of the Animals (Scientific Procedure) Inspectorate was in the last 12 months; 
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18 (3) If an inspector considers that a protected animal is undergoing excessive suffering he may require it to be immediately killed by a method appropriate to the animal under Schedule 1 to this Act or by such other method as may be authorised by any personal licence held by the person to whom the requirement is addressed".
In addition, the Inspectorate is also involved in a number of initiatives to continuously raise awareness of opportunities to implement the three 'R's (of reduction, refinement and replacement) in animal experimentation, to promote a 'culture of care', and to identify and disseminate best practice.
(3) what the remit is of the National Technical Assistance Centre; 
(4) when the National Technical Assistance Centre was established. 
Mr. Blunkett: The head of the National Technical Assistance Centre (NTAC) was appointed in March 2001 in response to the 1999 Cabinet Office Performance and Innovation Unit report "Encryption and Law Enforcement".
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NTAC will provide assistance to the investigations in the United Kingdom intelligence and law enforcement agencies; by providing techniques for lawful interception of modern multimedia communications, and by processing those lawfully intercepted communications to provide intelligible material to the intercepting agencies. NTAC also provides techniques to derive intelligible evidence from lawfully seized computer data.
Since the summer of 2001 NTAC has been operational in its role in respect of lawfully seized computer data. Operational work in respect of lawfully intercepted communications is planned to commence in late summer 2002.
(3) what the cost of HM Inspectorate of Prisons was in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Blunkett: The Inspectorate of Prisons was set up as an independent body in 1981 under the previous Conservative administration. Its remit is to inspect and report the treatment and conditions of those in Prison Service custody, and Immigration Service detention. In the financial year 200102 Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons costs were £1.89 million. There were 26 full-time members of staff and eight consultants in post on 31 March 2002.
(3) when the Financial Crime Team was established; 
(4) how many members of staff are employed by the Financial Crime Team. 
Mr. Blunkett: The Financial Crime Team was set up in April 2000 to secure delivery of the Government's policy on the recovery of criminal assets which is a priority for this Government. In particular, the Financial Crime Team is responsible for:
the establishment of the proposed Assets Recovery Agency and Financial Investigation of Excellence;
monitoring and development of the Asset Recovery Strategy; and
the administration of the Recovered Assets fund and of a separate grant scheme for police financial investigators.
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(3) what the cost of the Legal Adviser's Branch was in the last 12 months; 
(4) when the Legal Adviser's Branch was established. 
Mr. Blunkett: The first permanent Home Office Counsel was appointed in 1835 but the current Legal Adviser's Branch (LAB) can be said to date from the appointment, in 1869, of the first Assistant Under-Secretary (Legal). LAB provides specific legal services to other parts of the Home Office, and a similar service to the Northern Ireland Office. The cost of LAB in the last 12 months was £2.76 million. As at 31 March 2002 there were 57 members of staff employed.
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