Continuing fallout from the PSNI data breach

05/09/2023 | BBC News

A number of developments have occurred following the news last week that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) suffered a significant data breach in which details of all current serving officers and civilian staff members were mistakenly published online.

  • ITV News reports that the spreadsheet containing leaked PSNI data can still be obtained online within a matter of minutes.
  • Belfast Telegraph (£) reports officers in Northern Ireland have asked for guns to protect themselves. Chief Constable Byrne, who is responsible for issuing weapons, will only do so when there is a “real and immediate risk” and the firearm is a “necessary measure to protect the life of the applicant”. Several staff claim they are being left defenceless. 
  • The Telegraph (£) revealed that a PSNI support worker missed his child’s Gaelic football training and that the data breach has changed his feelings about attending other regular places.
  • BBC News reports the PSNI are investigating a document posted on a wall in west Belfast near a Sinn Féin office and alongside a photo of the party's policing spokesperson. While the names were redacted, the document included information from the breach. 
  • The Guardian reports Chief Constable Byrne believes dissident republican paramilitaries have obtained leaked police data. In a press conference, Byrne said, “It’s therefore our planning assumption that they will use this list to generate fear and uncertainty, as well as intimidating or targeting officers and staff."
  • Belfast Telegraph (£) writes that this is a nightmare scenario for the Northern Irish peace process should the PSNI data breach lead to an exodus of Catholic officers. 
  • BBC News reports on an interview with DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson on Radio 4's Today programme that the PSNI should not be left leaderless while investigating the cause of the data breach, but that accountability would follow.
  • BBC News reports that a man has been arrested in connection with the data breach. The 39-year-old was apprehended on suspicion of collecting information that could be used by terrorists. This arrest was made during a search operation in Lurgan, County Armagh. The police have stated that this arrest is part of a larger investigation into criminality linked to the data breach. In a statement, Detective Chief Superintendent Andy Hill said that officers are "working tirelessly to address the risk posed to officers and staff." BBC News confirms that the  man has now been released on bail.
  • The Guardian reports that last week’s data breach should act as a wake-up for anyone who allowed the bombings, shootings, riots and violence to slip from their minds in the 25 years since the peace treaty was signed in 1998 and a lightbulb moment for those with no adult memory of the troubles in Northern Ireland. Given the possibility that the breach could undermine security in the region, restoring power sharing is a political necessity.  
  • The Guardian reported on Saturday that a second man had been charged with terrorism offences after the PSNI data breach. The 50-year-old man is due to appear at Coleraine Magistrates Court on Monday.  
  • Sky News reports that Christopher Paul O'Kane has appeared in court charged with two terror offences following the PSNI data breach. He has been charged with possessing documents or records that are likely to be useful to terrorists and possessing two mobile phones for use in terrorism. 
  • BBC News reports the Policing Board in Northern Ireland has announced that an independent-led review will be carried out. Chief Constable Simon Byrne has the unanimous support of the board at this time.
  • The Guardian reports that the PSNI Chief Constable, Simon Byrne, has resigned following a string of controversies, including the major data breach that compromised the personal information of over 10,000 support staff and officers. 
  • The Telegraph reports Catholic police have attended church while armed.
  • BBC News reports that the PSNI data breach could cost the service up to £240m in extra security for officers and potential legal action, MPs have been told.
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Northern Ireland Police Service, PSNI

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