Details about PSNI officers appear to be in the possession of people who may terrorise and kill them. The return of power-sharing has never been more urgent
Half of the people who live in these islands have no adult memory at all of the Northern Ireland troubles. Too many of those who can remember them have allowed the bombings, shootings, riots and violence to slip from their minds in the 25 years that have passed since a peace treaty was signed in 1998. But last week’s data leak by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) ought to be a wake-up call for the forgetful, and a lightbulb moment for the unaware.
Nine days ago, in response to a freedom of information request whose provenance remains unclear, someone in the PSNI mistakenly put the names, initials, ranks, place of work and departments of all of its 10,000 officers and staff online for about three hours before they were removed. Especially in a profession where police and their families were, and sometimes still are, regular targets, it was a spectacular security breach, even in these more peaceful times.
Martin Kettle is a Guardian columnist