PSNI response to data breach will not be fudged, Boutcher vows

Psni Response To Data Breach Will Not Be Fudged, Boutcher Vows
PSNI Chief Constable Jon Boutcher was giving evidence to a UK committee. Photo: PA Images
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Gráinne Ní Aodha and Jonathan McCambridge, PA

The Police Service of Northern Ireland's (PSNI) response to a major data breach which saw the details of all officers and staff published online will not be fudged, Chief Constable Jon Boutcher has said.

During an appearance before the UK's Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Mr Boutcher also said that the ultimate financial costs of the leak to the force are “not known”.


In August, the details of almost 9,500 PSNI officers and staff were mistakenly published in response to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The list included the surname and first initial of every employee, their rank or grade, where they are based and the unit in which they work.

Police later said the information is in the hands of dissident republicans.

The PSNI has previously indicated that the data breach could potentially cost the force £240 million in security and legal costs.


PSNI data breach
Simon Byrne was chief constable at the time of the data leak in August. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA. 

The controversy contributed to the resignation of then-chief constable Simon Byrne and led the PSNI and Policing Board to commission a review.

On Monday, the review, headed by Pete O’Doherty, temporary commissioner at the City of London Police, made 37 recommendations.


It said the breach was the consequence of the service not seizing opportunities to secure and protect its internal information and pointed to a “siloed approach” to information management functions.

Mr Boutcher told MPs that “every police force in the country needs to read this report and understand the recommendations and apply our learning to their own organisation”.



He said: “There is a culture in policing, that is extremely nervous about cloud-based solutions technology-wise and we need to explore with partners how we can address some of those failings that have been identified in the report.

“What I can promise you is this isn’t going to be fudged, we’re not going to shy away from this. We will progress it, but we have to do it within the context of the current financial envelope.”

Mr Boutcher said he cannot currently give an estimate of the cost of implementing the 37 recommendations made in the independent review.


“I can’t give you a clear figure at the moment but it’s something that we are seeking to determine,” he said.

PSNI data breach
Temporary deputy Chief Constable Chris Todd spoke about the costs of the breach. Photo: Liam McBurney/PA. 

Temporary deputy Chief Constable Chris Todd said a bid for preliminary costs of “around 30 million” had been submitted, but there would be “additional costs”.

“Our bid that was negotiated with the Treasury went through for around 30 million and that’s still being worked through parts of it. We did have some promising news just last week but it’s still a work in progress.

“But it’s fair to say the report has highlighted some additional requirements which weren’t in that original estimate … so there will be some additional costs.”

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