Belfast Telegraph

Security blunder identifies RUC post applicants

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

The Department of Justice has apologised after details about people who inquired about a position with the RUC George Cross Foundation were accidentally released.

The security blunder, which has been blamed on human error, led to the names of an unknown number of applicants for the post of trustee with the charity being sent out in an email.

It is understood a staff member inadvertently attached the incorrect document to the email.

A letter from the department detailing the mistake was posted out to those affected on May 28.

It read: “I am obliged to inform you, under the Data Protection Act 1998, that information concerning your recent interest in the post of Trustee of the RUC GC Foundation was sent in error by electronic mail, to another applicant.

“Your name and the names of some other persons who expressed an interest in the competition, was mistakenly included.

“I apologise for the annoyance and distress caused.”

Last year Justice Minister David Ford issued an apology to around 6,000 former and serving police officers after letters sent by his department to notify payments from a gratuity scheme identified them.

Windows on the envelopes were found to easily disclose the heading of the letters inside: “Part Time Reserve Gratuity”.

Last night, a spokesman for the Department of Justice said this latest breach had been referred to the Information Commissioner.

“The department has apologised for this breach and for any distress it has caused.

“The breach concerned an attachment in an email which listed the names of nine individuals interested in a public appointment competition but did not include contact details, addresses or other identifying information.

“The incident was as a result of human error and officials have been reminded of the procedures regarding data handling.”

Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland has called for the Justice Minister to “get to grips with his department”.

“Anyone can make a mistake but mistakes involving security breaches are unacceptable,” he said.

“Unfortunately, for some, being associated with the RUC George Cross Association could put them at risk.”

Belfast Telegraph


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