The Chief Constable Simon Byrne along with members of the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Service Executive Team today, Thursday 10th August, met with the Northern Ireland Policing Board to discuss the recent data breach.
It was a constructive and challenging meeting during which the Chief Constable briefed Board members on the material released and on how systems and processes failed. The Board were updated on the immediate action taken by the organisation to understand, mitigate and communicate the risk to staff and to address the understandable concerns about staff welfare and safety.
The Board were also provided details on the Police Service’s plans to ensure nothing like this breach happens again.
The Chief Constable reiterated the apology to the whole Police family made by senior colleagues in recent days. He said: “I, and the rest of the Service Executive Team, are deeply sorry for this unprecedented and industrial scale data breach. I want to reassure all officers and staff that I am committed to supporting everyone affected and ensuring that this never happens again.
“I do not underestimate the seriousness of this breach and the impact it will have on colleagues and their families. Their welfare and safety is my priority. We have set up a dedicated group within the Police Service to support anyone affected by the data breach. To date we have received over 600 referrals. My priority as Chief Constable is to build the confidence and trust within the organisation, our partners and the general public.
The Chief Constable continued: “An early worst case scenario which we considered following the data breach was that third parties might attempt to get this data to intimidate, corrupt or harm officers or staff. We have since become aware of dissident republican claims that they are in possession of data circulating on WhatsApp. I informed the Policing Board of this earlier today and we have taken immediate steps to inform our officers and staff.
“The Police Service of Northern Ireland will continue to work with partners to investigate the breaches and will update in due course the outcome of these.”