Are You Able To Claim For The PSNI Data Breach?

This past week, it was announced by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) that they had a data breach. The personal data of every officer and staff member was published in error when responding to a Freedom of Information (FOI) requestIn this article, we examine what happened, looking at what data was compromised and what you could do if you’ve been affected.

PSNI data breach

Are You Able To Claim For The PSNI Data Breach?

We also take a look at the data protection legislation in the UK. This sets out how data controllers (usually a party that decides why personal data is processed and for what purpose) and processors (they may be instructed to process data on behalf of a controller) must protect the personal data that they process.

Additionally, this legislation sets the eligibility requirements to seek data breach compensation. We take a look at the claiming criteria as well as the compensation that could be awarded if a case succeeds. 

To conclude, we look at how one of the specialist data breach solicitors from our panel could help you should you have valid grounds to pursue compensation. 

If you have any questions, please speak to one of the advisors from our team. They’re available 24/7 on the following details:

Choose A Section 

  1. Information About The Police Service Of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Data Breach
  2. What Information Was Revealed In The PSNI Data Breach?
  3. Are You Able To Claim For The PSNI Data Breach?
  4. What Compensation Could You Receive From A Data Breach Claim?
  5. Can A Solicitor Help You Claim Against PSNI For The Data Breach?
  6. Learn More About How To Make A Police Data Breach Claim

Information About The Police Service Of Northern Ireland (PSNI) Data Breach

On the 8th of August 2023, PSNI announced that when they responded to an FOI request the personal data of officers and support staff was exposed in error. 

The request sought the total number of officers and support staff  plus their ranks and grades across the police force. However, a spreadsheet containing the personal data of these staff, was also included when responding to the request. It was then published on a website called ‘What Do They Know’. The public had access to this data for over two hours before it was taken down. 

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has confirmed that they are investigating the incident in a statement. As part of their role upholding information rights and freedoms of data subjects in the UK, the ICO can investigate data breaches and issue fines against those who have breached data protection laws. 

If you have received a letter of notification informing you that your personal data was included in the PSNI data breach, please contact an advisor to discuss your possible options.

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-66448442 

What Information Was Revealed In The PSNI Data Breach?

According to PSNI, the data breach exposed the following information to the public:

  • Surnames. 
  • The first initial of first names. 
  • Staff grade or officer rank of all PSNI staff members. 
  • Where they are based. 
  • The unit where each staff member worked, including areas such as surveillance and intelligence. 

How Could You Be Impacted By The PSNI Data Breach?

It is speculated that police officers and support staff will be left incredibly vulnerable by revealing their personal data. Reports in the press suggest that the workforce are anxious and worried about their safety and that of their families due to the breach. 

During the Troubles, which lasted for 30 years, 302 police officers were killed. Police officers and support staff remain under continual threat from republican paramilitaries. 

The most recent attack occurred in February this year when an off-duty officer was shot in Omagh. 

Contact our team of helpful advisors if you have been affected by the PSNI data breach.

Source: https://news.sky.com/story/northern-ireland-police-data-breach-psni-officers-left-incredibly-vulnerable-due-to-human-error-12936303 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-66447388 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-64740066

Are You Able To Claim For The PSNI Data Breach?

If you’ve been affected by the PSNI data breach, you may have received a letter of notification informing you of the exposure as well as what personal data was breached. Data controllers that breached your personal data must alert you without undue delay if this compromise presents risks to your rights and freedoms. This letter should tell you about the nature of the breach as well as what is being done to address the incident. 

In the UK, there are specific laws governing how personal data should be processed. These are the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR). The UK GDPR also defines the specific eligibility criteria that must be met in order to have valid grounds to seek compensation for a breach in personal data. 

As set under Article 82 of the UK GDPR this is:

  • The breach must have occurred due to the data controller or processor failing to adhere to the data protection legislation. A breach could occur accidentally through human error, or deliberately, such as through or cybercrime. 
  • Your personal data must have been compromised in a breach due to the controller or processor’s wrongful conduct. Personal data is any information that can be used to identify you as the subject. Identification could occur directly, i.e. your name, or indirectly by piecing together other types of personal information. 
  • As a result of this breach, you must have suffered financial loss, such as money stolen from your bank account, or damage to your mental health, such as emotional distress

Get in touch with an advisor using the contact information at the top of the page if you would like to talk about your potential options following the PSNI data breach. 

What Compensation Could You Receive From A Data Breach Claim?

If your claim for a data protection breach is successful, you could receive compensation for your material and non-material damage. 

Material damage refers to financial harm caused by the breach, such as criminals gaining access to your bank account and stealing funds or the cost of needing to move away from the area in which you live. You can provide evidence, such as bank statements, to prove any losses.

Non-material damage refers to psychological harm caused by the breach. For example, this could include anxiety due to a data breach or post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), in cases that are more severe. 

Our table below looks at some figures for mental health injuries from the 5th edition of the Green Book. The Green Book provides guideline compensation figures for different injuries to help when valuing claims in Northern Ireland. As every case is different, our table is only provided as a guide. 

Compensation Table

Type of Mental Injury Severity Notes Guideline Compensation
Psychological Harm Severe The injured party suffers marked problems coping in various areas of life and relationships. This is alongside a very poor prognosis. £82,000 – £210,000
Moderately Severe The injured party experiences significant problems coping with life and relationships, but the prognosis is better than worse cases. £47,500 – £125,000
Moderate The injured party has experienced problems coping, but symptoms have improved and with a good prognosis. £12,000 – £48,500
Minor The award considers how long the injured party suffered a disability and to what extent. Up to £15,000
PTSD Severe The injured party suffers permanent symptoms. These prevent them from functioning at the same level as prior to the incident. £60,000 – £120,000
Moderately Severe Although the injured party may make some recovery with the help of a professional, the symptoms are likely to cause significant disability for the foreseeable future. However, the prognosis will be more optimistic overall. £45,000 – £95,000
Moderate The injured party may experience some continuing symptoms, however, these are not grossly disabling. £12,000 – £48,500
Minor Although the injured party may experience minor symptoms beyond 2 years, they’ve largely recovered. £4,500 – £13,000

If you would like free advice about what steps you could take following the PSNI data breach, get in touch with one of the advisors from our team. 

Can A Solicitor Help You Claim Against PSNI For The Data Breach?

Here at Public Interest Lawyers, we provide a free claim assessment to check the eligibility of your case. Our advisors can also offer you free advice about your potential options following an accidental workplace data breach and a free personalised valuation. 

Should you decide to go ahead with a data breach compensation claim, you may wish to do so with legal representation. A data breach claim is potentially rather complex. However, a solicitor could help you obtain the correct evidence that proves fault as well as the harm you suffered. 

If you reach out to us and have an eligible claim, we could pass you onto one of the specialist data breach solicitors from our panel. 

To further discuss the PSNI data breach, you can contact an advisor on the following details:

  • Fill out our ‘contact us’ form and an advisor will call you at a suitable time. 
  • Phone 0800 408 7825
  • Use our live webchat feature. 

Learn More About How To Make A Police Data Breach Claim

Additional data breach guides:

External sites that might be helpful:

If you need any further information about the PSNI data breach and what steps you could potentially take, please get in touch.

Article by AR

Publisher EI