UK

Leaked PSNI document posted on wall facing Sinn Fein office in attempt to intimidate, party says

A redacted version of a leaked document that listed the names of police officers in Northern Ireland was posted on a wall facing a Sinn Fein office in Belfast in a “sinister” attempt to intimidate one of its politicians, the party said.

Sinn Fein’s policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly, a member of the Stormont assembly, said a version of the document with the officers’ names removed, was posted on a wall facing the party’s office on the Falls Road in Belfast.

A photo of Mr Kelly and a threatening message were posted alongside the document.

The PSNI previously revealed that dissident republicans claimed to be in possession of the document, which would amount to a severe security issue for the force.

The document, which had mistakenly been shared online, included the names of around 10,000 officers and staff.

“This is a very obvious attempt by dissident republicans to intimidate me,” Mr Kelly said.

“Even more sinister, this is a very public indication that the dissidents do have access to the sensitive information in the data leak document, it, therefore represents a very real threat to the officers, and the civilian staff involved.

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“I have of course reported this incident to the PSNI and I would appeal to anyone with information to bring that information forward.

“Sinn Féin represents the vast majority of people in the nationalist community and we will certainly not be intimidated by dissident groups who have virtually no support and who offer nothing but disruption and threats in an attempt to make themselves relevant.

“They should disband and end their anti-community activities.”

The PSNI said they were investigating the incident.

Assistant chief constable Chris Todd said: “From the outset we have been planning for this potential development and that plan is now being put into place.

“We recognise the impact this may have on our officers, staff and their families and additional security and reassurance patrols have already been implemented across Northern Ireland as part of our organisational response.

“The safety and welfare of our officers and staff remains our priority and we have reminded them of their personal safety and security both on and off duty.”

The data breach happened when the PSNI responded to a Freedom of Information request seeking the number of officers and staff of all ranks and grades across the organisation.

In the response to this request, a table was embedded which contained the rank and grade data, but also included detailed information that attached the surname, initial, location and departments for all PSNI employees.

The data was potentially visible to the public for between two-and-a-half to three hours.

A representative body for officers said they have been left “shocked, dismayed and basically angry” by the breach.

Police in Northern Ireland are under threat from terrorists, with the current assessed level of threat at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Senior detective John Caldwell was seriously injured when he was shot by gunmen at a sports complex in Co Tyrone in February.

Chief constable of the PSNI Simon Byrne said earlier this year that he receives briefings almost every day about plots to attack and kill his officers, adding that the ongoing threat from dissident republicans remains a “real worry”.

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