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Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the establishment and seniority structure of investigative officers in the office of the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland; how many officers have been appointed;
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how many appointees came from (a) RUC (i) serving and seconded and (ii) former officers and (b) other United Kingdom police forces (A) serving and seconded, (B) former officers and (C) Garda Siochana (1) serving and seconded and (2) former officers; and if he will list the nationality, background and previous experience of other appointees. 
Mr. Ingram: The composition of the investigating officers of the Office of the Police Ombudsman is fairly typical of the usual team and ranking structures established to undertake the investigation of complaints and other matters made against the police. The investigation group is headed by a chief investigating officer assisted by senior investigating officers, each of whom are responsible for investigation teams comprising a number of investigating and assistant investigating officers.
Currently the ombudsman has appointed 32 investigating officers across all ranks. Of those appointed, none are serving, seconded or former officers of the RUC or the Garda Siochana; one is a former officer of a United Kingdom police force; one is a former officer of HM Forces Military Police; and eight are serving officers seconded from other United Kingdom police forces.
The majority of investigating officer appointees are United Kingdom citizens with the remainder being made up of nationals from America, Australia and South Africa. Although not all of the investigating officers are from a police background, all have investigative experience in other areas of employment.
Mr. Ingram: For the Office of the Police Ombudsman to fulfil its investigative function it is necessary to establish protocols with a number of agencies, some of which have already been established, e.g. with the Forensic Science Agency, and a number of other protocols are currently in negotiation. A series of internal protocols have also been established.
Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many complaints have been received by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland; and how many investigations have been initiated. 
Mr. Ingram: Since the Office of the Ombudsman became operational on 6 November 2000 the total number of complaints received by 2 January 2001 was 602, and in the same time 234 investigations have been initiated.
Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if, in relation to the Patten report Implementation Plan, he has sought to quantify the extent and the growth during the past five years of volume crime and of Mafia-style organised crime; and if he will publish a report. 
Mr. Ingram: In recent years, Northern Ireland, in common with England and Wales, has experienced an increase in volume crime, that is offences against the person and property damage (burglary, theft and criminal damage). Comparing 1998-99 and 1999-2000, the number of these
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offences recorded increased by 9 per cent. In both years such offences represented 89 per cent. of all offences recorded by the police. The Royal Ulster Constabulary is developing a professional crime and incident analysis capability across the organisation in recognition of the extent and growth of volume crime and reflecting the requirements of the Patten report.
The police, with the assistance of other agencies, are presently researching the level of scale and scope of the organised crime problem, in both the public and private sectors, in Northern Ireland. In addition, the Government have established a multi-agency task force to tackle organised crime in Northern Ireland, which I chair.
The Patten report took account of the types of crime to which the hon. Member is referring, and so, indirectly therefore, does the plan. For example, the size, structure, training and co-operation sections of the Patten report all take account of the need to deal with community concerns about rising crime and drug abuse. Indeed, paragraph 13.6 of the report states that
Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been the recognised senior command course for RUC officers; what alternatives have been accepted; and what exceptions have been made among the officers who comprise the RUC senior command. 
Mr. Ingram: The recognised senior command course required for the appointment of Assistant Chief Constable in the Royal Ulster Constabulary is the strategic command course provided by the national police training organisation at Bramshill. The strategic leadership development programme and the senior command course were forerunners to this.
In the present competition, candidates for appointment of Assistant Chief Constable who can offer successful completion of an equivalent course will also be considered. In deciding what is an equivalent course, the Police Authority for Northern Ireland will be guided by advice from Her Majesty's inspector of constabulary.
Mr. Maginnis: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if alternatives to the recognised senior command course are to be accepted for officers from other police forces who apply for senior command appointments with the RUC; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Ingram: In order to open competition to a wider field, the Police Authority for Northern Ireland has decided to allow candidates applying for posts of Assistant Chief Constable in the Royal Ulster Constabulary to offer successful completion of an equivalent course to that of the strategic command course provided by the national police training organisation at Bramshill.
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Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applications he has received for independent members of the Police Board; what is the breakdown of the applicants by (a) gender, (b) perceived community affiliation, (c) age under (i) 30, (ii) 31 to 40, (iii) 41 to 50, (iv) 51 to 65 and (v) 66 and over and (d) sexual orientation. 
|Less than 25||3|
Data are not available on the sexual orientation of applicants.
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respect of a new timetable for duty and tariff imports of cane sugar starting from 2006. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 2 February 2001]: The European Commission has said that it is considering amendments to its proposal to grant duty free access to goods from least-developed countries. However, no formal new proposal has yet been tabled.
Mr. Worthington: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will ask the United States Department of Agriculture for the evidence on which the USDA approved alkaline hydrolysis at elevated temperature as an effective technology for dealing with BSE-infected animals; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Quin [holding answer 30 January 2001]: I understand that the company that produces the technology has requested this evidence from the USDA and intends to give it to my officials. Officials are discussing with the company the possibility of permitting the use of this technology to dispose of animal waste. The Department is also funding a research project to investigate the efficacy of the system in inactivating the BSE agent.
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