Fears for Fermanagh officers caught in PSNI data breach

THERE is considerable concern in the local community following last week’s major PSNI data breach.

Personal details including surnames, initials and the place of work of the police service’s 10,000 serving officers and civilian staff were published in error on a Freedom of Information website last week, and remained online for several hours.

There is no way of knowing who accessed this extremely sensitive information while it was available.


This has prompted deep fear and anger among officers and their families across the North, including here in Fermanagh. Given the dissident security threat against officers, particular those from the Catholic community, many officers take extreme measures to conceal their profession to protect themselves and their loved ones.

A family member of a Fermanagh officer, who wished to remain anonymous for obvious reasons, said the breach was “unbelievable.”

“It’s very disheartening for people who travel great distance to work away from home and keep their work life and their private lives totally separate, and then to find that their own bosses have completely compromised their situation,” they said.

Meanwhile, a serving officer has said they have “no doubt” the breach “has put lives at risk.”

Speaking anonymously to Fermanagh Herald sister paper, the Tyrone Herald, they said, “Many people do not even tell their friends and families they have joined the PSNI – now their surnames, initials, department, place of work, all that is in the hands of terrorists.

“People could be killed because of this, there is no two ways about it. It beggars belief.”

Chairman of the Catholic Police Guild, Gerry Murray, said “everyone understands” the difficulties and implications of the breach.


“It is important that the Police Service acts quickly and comprehensively to win back and retain the confidence of serving officers and staff.

This applies particularly to colleagues from the Catholic community,” said Mr Murray.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne has apologised publicly a number of times for what he “this unprecedented and industrial scale data breach” and said he was committed to supporting all involved and ensuring it never happens again.

“I do not underestimate the seriousness of this breach and the impact it will have on colleagues and their families,” he said. “Their welfare and safety is my priority.”

Chief Constable Byrne said the PSNI had set up a dedicated group to deal with those affected by the breach. He added police were aware of dissident republican claims they were in possession of the data, and had “taken immediate steps” to deal with this situation.

Aside from the immediate security threat against the officers and staff, it is also feared the data breach could have wide-reaching financial consequences for both the police and possibly even the public sector as a whole, due to potential compensation pay-outs.

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The Fermanagh Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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