Northern Ireland police investigate second data breach after document containing officer details is stolen

9 August 2023, 21:11

The PSNI are investigating a second breach.
The PSNI are investigating a second breach. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Northern Ireland police are investigating a second data breach after the theft of documents, including a spreadsheet containing the names of more than 200 serving officers and staff.

The documents, along with a police issue laptop and radio, are believed to have been stolen from a private vehicle in Newtownabbey, north of Belfast, on July 6.

It comes after the PSNI apologised for compromising the data of all 10,000 of their officers and staff in a breach that revealed their rank, surname, initial, location and departments online for up to to three hours.

The PSNI said in a statement that they are treating the issue "extremely seriously" and have since declared a "critical incident".

Read more: 'Critical incident' declared by Northern Ireland police after the names of 10,000 officers and staff published online

Read more: Northern Ireland police expose details of all officers in ‘monumental’ data breach blaming 'human error'

Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd addressed the breach on Wednesday.
Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd addressed the breach on Wednesday. Picture: Alamy

"Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the theft of documents, including a spreadsheet containing the names of over 200 serving officers and staff," Assistant Chief Constable Chris Todd said.

"The documents, along with a police issue laptop and radio, were believed to have been stolen from a private vehicle in the Newtownabbey area on July 6.

"We have contacted the officers and staff concerned to make them aware of the incident and an initial notification has been made to the office of the Information Commissioner regarding the data breach.

"This is an issue we take extremely seriously and as our investigation continues we will keep the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Information Commissioner's Office updated."

Police Federation for Northern Ireland chair Liam Kelly has called for urgent answers.
Police Federation for Northern Ireland chair Liam Kelly has called for urgent answers. Picture: Alamy

Police Federation for Northern Ireland chair Liam Kelly has called for answers following the fresh revelations from police.

"This confirmation makes matters worse," he said.

"Clearly, urgent answers are required. How did this happen? What steps were put in place to advise and safeguard so many colleagues? How did this actually happen?

"The major security breach was bad enough but this heaps further additional pressure on the PSNI to produce credible explanations around data security protocols and the impact on officer safety."

Police officers in Northern Ireland were regularly attacked by republican paramilitary groups during the Troubles and members of the PSNI have also been targeted in gun and bomb attacks in the years following the Good Friday Agreement.

In February this year, senior PSNI officer Det Ch Insp John Caldwell was seriously injured in a shooting in Omagh, County Tyrone.

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