Friday 23 August 2019

Investigation under way after private image of female PSNI officer shared online

Stock image: WhatsApp
Stock image: WhatsApp Newsdesk Newsdesk

Police have launched an investigation after a private image of a female officer was shared online.

The Press Association understands that the officer's security has had to be reviewed following the circulation of the intimate photograph.

It is not yet known how the image found its way onto social media sites.

The PSNI confirmed to the Press Association that an investigation is under way, but did not provide any details about the nature of the probe.

Chief Inspector Keith Jackson said in a statement: "Police are currently working to establish the origins of a number of images posted across social media sites over recent days.

"An investigation is currently under way."

It is understood the cyber-security breach originated on the messaging app WhatsApp.

It has since been shared more than 1,000 times.

PSNI officers have been warned previously to be aware of their online safety to prevent their details falling into the hands of terrorists or becoming a blackmail risk.

Although there is no official PSNI code of conduct for officers when using social media there is a corporate policy which warns of the risks accompanied with online use.

The PSNI has also launched a number of internet safety awareness messages for the public.

The organisation also provides guidance on its website which includes a warning against sharing personal information or images with strangers or posting anything online that people would be unhappy to be shared, particularly nude or nearly nude images or videos.

"It may seem like a bit of fun with friends at the time but there is always a chance those images could be shared or get into the wrong hands and could lead to harmful situations such as stalking, abuse or blackmail," the guidance continues.

The PSNI encourages anyone who may have had, or is aware of, a worrying or disturbing interaction online to contact police or a trusted adult.

The officer at the centre of the incident does not hold a senior rank in the PSNI. She is a constable.

PSNI Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris later confirmed the incident.

He said a second officer had also been wrongly linked to the picture.

Mr Harris said both officers were receiving support.

"The posting and re-posting of this material across various social media platforms over recent days has regrettably re-traumatised the victim in this already difficult case," he said.

"It has also unfortunately implicated a second officer erroneously."

Mr Harris added: "Whilst we continue to offer our full support to both officers, we would urge sensible and sensitive reporting around this matter and afford time for an investigation to take place."

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