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Blunder by caterer ‘put police civil staff at risk’

The lives of more than 100 civilian workers at PSNI stations across Northern Ireland have been put at risk because of an “alarming” security breach by a catering contractor.

In what has been described as a potentially life-threatening gaffe, the catering services provider Sodexo posted work-related correspondence to the workers with the name of their PSNI station on the envelope.

Due to the severity of the terrorist threat against PSNI officers and its civilian staff, the workers have now received security advice from the police on how to improve their personal safety.

Some of the workers are concerned that their details could fall into the hands of dissident republicans.

Sodexo has apologised to the workers and said that measures have been taken to ensure a similar situation does not arise again.

However the breach has raised serious concern over the security awareness of contractors who provide services to the PSNI.

A French multi-national corporation, Sodexo was appointed as the PSNI’s catering services provider in December 2008. A spokesman for the company said the incident involving its staff working within PSNI stations happened two weeks ago and an investigation is under way.

DUP Policing Board member Jimmy Spratt said the mistake may have put lives at risk.

“This company should be paying for any security measures those affected by their potentially life-threatening gaffe have had to take. It seems completely crazy that they did not pick up on the security implications of this.

“I think a very valid question is what sort of briefing this company got in relation to the security of civilian staff and the importance of making sure there was no breach of security,” the DUP MLA added.

Dominic Bradley, SDLP Policing Board member, said: “This is an alarming situation and obviously there is a risk of the security of these workers being compromised.”

He added measures should be taken to prevent a similar situation arising again.

Belfast Telegraph

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