Did PSNI act on previous data security guidance? Clarke

The DUP’s lead Policing Board representative Trevor Clarke MLA has said the revelation that the PSNI received national guidance on data security in the weeks prior to August’s major breach adds a new dimension to the already dire situation facing policing confidence in Northern Ireland.

By Trevor Clarke MLA

South Antrim

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It has emerged that all police services in the UK were alerted by the National Police Chiefs Council to existing guidance on ‘How to disclose information safely’ in June and July.

Commenting, the South Antrim MLA said:

‘‘This discovery would suggest there were concerns regarding police data handling processes well before the calamitous breach by the PSNI on 8 August. If that is the case, it is astounding that warnings apparently went unheeded within the organisation.

The public deserve answers. How many NPCC alerts were received in total? When, and by whom, was this information received? What action was taken? Who in the Senior Executive Team had ownership of this?

Furthermore, given that we now know that the PSNI knew there were concerns on a national level, and had sight of guidance that could reduce risk, it is baffling that the Service did not perform a comprehensive review of its practices even after the initial theft of a laptop and spreadsheet from a police vehicle in July.

These are core issues that the independent review must shine a light on if confidence in local policing is to be restored in a meaningful way. It is not a time to cut corners. Officers and staff are living with the consequences of this betrayal of trust. There must be full accountability.’’

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