Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Police Service of Northern Ireland hired cybersecurity firm to unmask Twitter critics of chief constable

The Police Service of Northern Ireland hired a private cybersecurity firm to investigate alleged Twitter accounts of officers mocking senior management.

An internal investigation was launched a year ago after the PSNI's chief constable George Hamilton was criticised online for comments he had made to a junior officer on social media.
Mr Hamilton told the officer to stop "wallowing in self pity" and "dry your eyes" after the officer raised concerns about the increasing pressures of the job.

Following the exchange, a number of Twitter users criticised Mr Hamilton and posted anonymous complaints about the job and criticisms of PSNI management. The chief constable subsequently apologised to the officer.

The PSNI brought in a private security firm to identify who was behind those accounts, many of which were suspended last week, according to the Press Association.

One account posted a satirical recruitment video to Twitter showing PSNI officers dancing beside a police helicopter.

A voiceover sarcastically suggests: "Are you considering a career where every day you drive home you fear you will be shot? Do you want the rush of wondering if the IRA has planted a bomb under your car? Do you want to be told to dry your eyes when asking for mental health support?
"Then join the Police Service of Northern Ireland today. Recruitment is now open to a host of new officers to be belittled by senior management teams, spat on by the public, harassed by the police ombudsman and have their spirits crushed."

A security source told the Press Association that it was around the time of the video being made that the unnamed cybersecurity firm was asked to help trace the suspected police officers operating the accounts.

One of the most concerning accounts had allegedly made racist and sectarian comments, had trolled other social media users and shared classified police information.

On Monday, the PSNI said the organisation "will not accept any racist, sectarian, sexist or homophobic behaviour from any of our staff."

PSNI assistant chief constable Mark Hamilton said the force was "examining material posted on personal social media accounts by a number of individuals and are undertaking investigations to establish if the individuals are all serving officers."

SKY       News.

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