Man charged over documents linked to PSNI data

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A 50-year-old man has been charged with possessing documents or records likely to be useful to terrorists following a major police data breach 11 days ago.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) mistakenly released details on 10,000 of its employees in response to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request.

The PSNI later confirmed the list was in the hands of dissident republicans.

The man was also charged with having articles for use in terrorism and is due in court in Coleraine on Monday.

The FoI details were published online after being released by the PSNI but were taken down from the website at the PSNI’s direction a short time later.

It was one of three separate PSNI data breach incidents being examined by police.

Missing notebook pages

In an earlier incident on 6 July, a police-issue laptop and radio, as well as a document containing the names of more than 200 staff, were stolen from a private vehicle at a retail park in Newtownabbey, County Antrim.

In another incident, on Thursday 17 August, a PSNI laptop and a police officer’s notebook fell from the roof of a moving car on the M2 in Belfast.

It happened on the Foreshore stretch of the motorway in the north of the city about 16:15 BST.

Earlier on Saturday, the PSNI confirmed that the notebook contained details of 42 officers and staff and sections of the book still have not been found.

A laptop also fell off but it was recovered and “immediately deactivated”.

It is believed the laptop belonged to a detective chief inspector.

“This afternoon (Friday) it was confirmed that some of the outstanding pages, which contained details of some officers and staff, have not yet been recovered. We have contacted those involved to make them aware,” said PSNI ACC Chris Todd.

“Forty-two officers and staff have been specifically identified as being affected and directly contacted last night by line managers and senior management,” he added.

The entire branch affected was also informed about the circumstances of the incident.

ACC Todd said a “significant amount of the notebook has since been recovered” and that no personnel files were involved.

He said enquiries were continuing to establish the contents of the missing pages.

The incident happened on the M2 motorway on Thursday

On Friday, a police spokesperson said the PSNI would be contacting the Information Commissioner and had already informed the Northern Ireland Policing Board and the Department of Justice.

Anyone with information or who recovers any material has been asked to contact police on 101.

Officer repositioned

It emerged on Friday that the superintendent involved in the 6 July data breach incident has been repositioned within the organisation, while a misconduct investigation takes place.

The PSNI has provided no further details around his move, which occurred in recent days.

In the incident, the PSNI’s data risk management unit was first informed of the theft on 27 July.

However, individuals were not advised of the incident, which could have compromised their security, until 4 August – almost a month after the incident occurred.

The PSNI has said the computer has been remotely erased of its contents and the radio deactivated.

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