PSNI data breach has 'broken trust' with officers, says Police Federation

Police have declared the major data breach, which saw thousands of officers and civilian staff details published online, as a critical incident.

The officers and staff have been given updated security advice and a emergency threat assessment group has been established to look at their welfare and concerns.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne will also cut his holiday shot to attend Thursday's Policing Board meeting.

The PSNI confirmed the surname, initials, rank/grade, role and location of all serving officers and staff was on the website What Do They Know for three hours.

Police Federation chairman said officers trust has been 'completely broken' over the leak.

Liam Kelly said the overall emotions were 'anger, dismay and annoyance' over the breach.

Mr Kelly said "Quite a few of our officers take extraordinary measures to ensure that they are kept safe and their families are kept safe and something like this getting into the public domain has clearly compromised that for some individuals."

When asked about the trust between the PSNI and its officers the PFNI Chairman said it is "basically broken"

He continued: "When your employer is found to be the person that put your data into the public domain in an organisation where our officers are under a severe terrorist threat it is deplorable.

"That is why they are looking answers and why they are looking quick resolutions."

On Wednesday, Northern Ireland's political leaders have been reacting to the data breach.All five of Stormont's main political parties were speaking after meeting the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to discuss restoring the political institutions.

Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O'Neill described the data breach as "very worrying".

"I'm very mindful of the officers, the staff and their families at this time," she said. "But we now need all the facts laid out bare for us all to see."

She said she hoped accountability would be achieved in an emergency Policing Board meeting on Thursday

Asked if the Simon Byrne should step down, Ms O'Neill said: "I think the story is unfolding but I think what's very clear is that we need to have this emergency Policing Board meeting... we need to see the reason why this happened... and there needs to be accountability around all of that.

"But I think we need to let the Policing Board do its work tomorrow."

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the PSNI data breach was a matter of "grave concern".

"Already I've had police officers in my own constituency in touch with me, they're very worried about what this means for them, for their security and that of their family.

"The chief constable is returning from leave, I expect to speak with him this evening and we'll get a better sense then of what is being done as a follow-up to this very serious breach of security.

"I know the senior command of the PSNI recognises the gravity of the situation and it's important that they now take the steps that are necessary, not only to reassure their officers and staff, but to also ensure that they are adequately protected.

"Until I know more about the background to how this data leak occurred, what were the circumstances, I think it is premature to be talking about the position of the chief constable."

Alliance Party leader Naomi Long said there are major questions to be asked.

Mrs Long said: "People's sense of security is a fragile thing.

"Whether or not that information may have been in the public domain in other forms is almost irrelevant because people's sense of their security having been breached.

"People's sense that their own organisation had not protected their information in a way that was robust enough to be able to protect that from falling into the wrong hands is going to cause serious concern for many officers, serious stress for them and their family."

Doug Beattie, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, said everyone should be concerned.

"Until we know the full extent of this and the repercussions from it, I think we all need to keep some cool heads," he said.

"But the most important thing here is to rally around those police officers and their families and civilian staff who are affected by this.

"And they're the ones that we need to really focus on at this moment in time."

Asked if the chief constable should resign over the matter, Mr Beattie added: "I think it's too early to be in the space to call for anybody to resign. But the more we get to know about this, the more we can make informed decisions.

"But right now, there's no point doing speculation, it's better getting the information."

The SDLP's Stormont leader Matthew O'Toole said police officers and their families will be "nervous and anxious" and feeling "completely let down."

Mr O'Toole said his party would be asking fundamental questions with the Policing Board on Thursday.

"Why it happened, how it was allowed to happen in the first place, because it seems completely unthinkable that a spreadsheet containing all this information was simply open at the click of a button to a relatively junior member of staff.

"Also critically what accountability looks like, because there does need to be accountability for a breach of this gravity and this seriousness."

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