Jordan Moates: One week on from data blunder the questions continue to mount for PSNI command

Chief Constable Simon Byrne cut short his holiday to fly into a storm.

WhatsApp and social media are full of scams, we are always told if it sounds like a farce then do not trust what you are being told.

Serving PSNI officers that we have spoken to started receiving messages about the data breach this day last week.

At first glance most of them dismissed it as a joke at best or at worst a scam.

Take a step back and it does sound like a comedy sketch…”did you hear about the dissident republican who got a list of police officer names, where they work and also the names of those working with security services?”

There is no punchline, the reality of the situation dawned on the PSNI fairly quickly. The gravity of the situation hit police headquarters like a freight train.

A gold command team was stood up, a news conference was hastily arranged and a senior officer admitted the breach.

The Chief Constable flew back from holiday into a storm. The expectation has been a two-hour meeting of the policing board to keep them in the loop.

Members had other ideas and spent hours questioning the senior officers. Four hours later and Simon Byrne was then further grilled by media.

That was the first hint the data was in the hands of dissident republicans.

Police officers were furious, many had spent their entire careers keeping their information secret.

Decades of varying their routes, carrying personal protection weapons and in some cases never going back to the area they grew up in was for nothing.

The data was circulating on social media platforms, mostly among officers, but widely enough that those who are intent on killing security forces were in possession of it.

There are many questions that still haven’t been answered, how was this able to happen, why did the processes fail, how was the data so easily accessible internally? It would be the expectation those questions would very much be answered in any investigation that will take place.

The ultimate question is around responsibility, and the challenge of leading an organisation like the PSNI.

The Chief Constable knows the buck stops with him, I asked him last week if he would be resigning over the controversy.

I thought his answer was telling, he said he was going nowhere but used the phrase “in the short term” .

Perhaps he is aware that in the long term his position becomes untenable.

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