Ex-police officers’ security fears over ‘missing’ pensions documents

An RUC patrol in west Belfast in the late 1980s

Several former RUC and PSNI personnel have expressed concerns over their personal security as the letters have remained undelivered for more than four weeks.

The admin of one ex-RUC group on Facebook said that former officers – particularly those who have had to move house under threat in the past – are understandably concerned the payslips could have been illegally intercepted.

A PSNI spokesman has confirmed the payslips were collected by Royal Mail “at the end of March” and cannot be located, but said police did not believe anyone can be identified as a former officer from the details on the documents.

The spokesman said the Information Commissioners Office has not been informed of the potential data breach.

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“Based on internal investigations to date, the assumption that this is most likely to be a result of service delivery delays and the current level of potential risk and impact, the incident does not currently meet ICO criteria for notification at present, but this is subject to review,” he said.

The ex-RUC group said many police pensioners won’t be reassured until the documents are safely retrieved and delivered.

The admin for the group said they had been inundated with former officers seeking information on the missing payslips.

A straw poll conducted by the former officers showed that only 11% of those responding had received their April payslip, so they fear that up to 4,000 of the estimated 5,000+ pension documentation letters are unaccounted for.

The group’s spokeswoman said: “I have had a number of these pensions payslips over the years and occasionally there is a clear reference to things like the Retired Police Officers’ Association when a payment is due,” she said.

“But even from the outside [of the letter], everyone working in the postal service probably knows what they are. That is why people are concerned.

“These slips were sent out on March 28 and no one seems to know where they are.”

She added: “It won’t be long before the P60s are due to be sent out and those clearly state who the employer is. This needs to be resolved satisfactorily before then.”

The police spokesman said: “PSNI Pensions Branch are aware that some payslips collected by Royal Mail at the end of March for delivery to pensioners remain undelivered.

“Investigations are ongoing with Royal Mail to establish what has occurred with a view to identifying the location of these outstanding payslips and to ensure completion of delivery and why this has happened.

“No details on the payslip identifies any person as being an ex-officer, and there are no anticipated security implications.”

The PSNI spokesman said the Information Commissioners Office has not been informed of the ongoing investigation into the whereabouts of the payslips.

“Based on internal investigations to date, the assumption that this is most likely to be a result of service delivery delays and the current level of potential risk and impact, the incident does not currently meet ICO criteria for notification at present, but this is subject to review,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the ICO said: “People have the right to expect that organisations will handle their personal information securely and responsibly.

“When an organisation becomes aware that a data incident has taken place, we would expect it to consider whether it is appropriate to contact the people affected and advise them whether there are steps that can be taken to protect them from any potential adverse effects. The organisation should also consider whether it should report it to the ICO.”

The ICO spokeswoman added: “If anyone has concerns about how their data has been handled, they should raise them with the organisation first then report them to us if they are not satisfied with the response.”

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