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PSNI Data Breach – What Happened And What Should You Do?

PSNI Data Breach – What Happened And What Should You Do?

August 9, 2023 4:36 pm7 comments

In August 2023, the Police Service Of Northern Ireland (PSNI) announced that they’d had a data breach. It’s said to have exposed the personal information of every member of staff, from the highest level to the bottom. Understandably, it’s caused a lot of concern.

Below, we take a look at what happened and what those affected can do to secure their position, as well as take legal action.

psni data breach

What Is The PSNI Data Breach And How Did It Happen?

The PSNI announced in a press conference on 8th August 2023 that they’d suffered a major data breach affecting all members of staff.

It came about as a result of a routine Freedom of Information (FOI) request. A member of staff responded to a question about police staffing numbers and ranks and grades. As part of that response, they attached a spreadsheet which contained the personal information of every member of staff.

The types of data exposed include:

  • First name initials
  • Grade and ranking
  • Surnames
  • Work locations
  • Department employed in

The data was uploaded to an FOI directory website called What Do They Know. It remained live for a number of hours before it was removed.

It’s unclear how many people accessed the PSNI spreadsheet, but regardless, the breach has caused great concern to many.

You can find out more in the PSNI’s statement on the data breach.

Have You Received A Data Breach Notification Letter?

If you’re employed by the PSNI, whether as an officer or other staff member, you may have received a letter or email in relation to the data breach. This is formally known as a data breach notification letter.

This letter should detail what personal information was exposed and the steps the PSNI is taking to secure it.

If you haven’t received a letter or notification yet, you should contact the PSNI.

PSNI Staff Could Claim Compensation For The Data Breach

The PSNI data breach has the potential to cause significant distress for many employees. Already officers and staff members have publicly commented that they’re frightened for the safety and well-being of their families.

If you’re experiencing distress, worry, anxiety or depression as a result of the PSNI data breach, a compensation claim could be a viable option. The force has admitted fault for what has happened, so it’s worth getting legal advice by speaking with a solicitor about your situation.

Why Is The PSNI Data Breach So Significant?

The PSNI data breach is a significant security issue. The force has seen attacks on members of its staff by republican paramilitaries, with one incident occurring as recently as February 2023 when an officer was shot.

With the risk of data on PSNI officers and staff getting into the wrong hands, people have understandably found the news distressing.

What Should You Do If You’re A PSNI Staff Member?

If you’re employed by the PSNI and want to know what to do, it can be helpful to first reach out to your employer.

You should have received a data breach notification letter or email which should confirm that you were impacted and what data has been exposed.

If you haven’t received this correspondence, get in touch with the PSNI.

It’s important to keep an eye out for any suspicious phone calls, text messages or emails. If you receive anything, report it right away.

Also, keep an eye on your bank accounts in case there are any attempts at fraud. If you notice anything suspicious, speak with your bank right away.

And you can get legal advice on what’s happened. In some cases, if you’ve suffered damage to your finances or mental health, you could claim compensation via a data breach claim against the PSNI.

Learn More About Data Breaches

Below, you can learn more about data breaches as well as the PSNI data breach incident: