Police of Northern Ireland have inadvertently released the surnames, initials and place of work of all current police officers and civilian employees in response to a freedom of information request. This was announced by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and explained that around 10,000 people were involved. Deputy Chief of Police Chris Todd said it was an “unacceptable” error. He reminded that the threat level for the police in the part of Great Britain on the island of Ireland is considerable, only in March the terrorism threat level was increased from “substantial” to “serious” after an increase in attacks. Further attacks are therefore considered “very likely”.
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According to Todd, the freedom of information request was simply a breakdown of all ranks and grades in the police force. According to the explanations, the answer contained not only a table with the number of all people working in the respective positions, but another table with the details of all individuals. The entire file was published at 2:30 p.m. on Monday, around 4 p.m. he was informed of the error as the person responsible for information risks. The file was then removed within an hour. The PSNI did not say whether and how often they were retrieved. However, Todd added that it is the responsibility of anyone who has it in their possession to delete it immediately.
Northern Ireland’s police force has repeatedly been the target of attacks by republican paramilitaries who are using violence to fight for the island’s reunification. Most recently, in February, a high-ranking inspector was shot multiple times by masked men in front of his son and other children. As a result, the threat level was then increased. The police union PFNI has now called for an urgent investigation and said it was fortunate that the table did not include the employees’ home addresses. It would have been a potentially catastrophic situation.
PFNI boss Liam Kelly now speaks of a “violation of monumental proportions”. Even accidentally, something like this should never have happened. The police officers were “shocked, dismayed and justifiably angry”. The fact that such sensitive data was held in such a way is unforgivable and must be seriously investigated, the leader of the Alliance Party said, according to the BBC. Colum Eastwood of the Social Democratic and Labor Party wrote on X (formerly Twitter): “The level of incompetence here is appalling.” According to initial assessments by the police, the release is due to a “simple human error”.
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