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16 Aug 2022

PSNI Officers accused of sharing images of suicide vicitms

McLaughlin: Latest PSNI allegations extremely concerning

PSNI Officers accused of sharing images of suicide vicitms

Two families have now come forward with allegations around police officers sharing images of their loved ones after they passed away

SDLP Policing Board member Sinéad McLaughlin has said further allegations about PSNI officers sharing images of suicide victims are extremely concerning.

Two families have now come forward with allegations around police officers sharing images of their loved ones after they passed away.

Ms McLaughlin called on PSNI Chief Constable Simon Byrne to reveal if any other officers are under investigation for similar incidents and said it prompted serious questions about the culture within the police service.

Foyle MLA Ms McLaughlin said: “The previous reporting of allegations that police officers had shared photos and videos of a suicide victim and interfered with their body shocked and horrified people across the North. 

"We trust our police officers to do their best for the communities they represent and to uphold the highest standards of their profession, to think anyone would take advantage of a victim in this way is incomprehensible and raises serious questions around the culture that exists within the PSNI.

“Further allegations that this was not an isolated incident are extremely concerning and we need answers from both the PSNI and Chief Constable Simon Byrne. 

"There is a need to establish exactly what happened in these cases and I understand that both criminal and Police Ombudsman investigations are ongoing and one officer has been dismissed, but these investigations have been dragging on for years. 

"We need to clarify if there have been any further incidents of this nature and what steps the PSNI are taking to address the concerns raised as a result. Any failure to properly deal with this situation will put public confidence in our police service at risk.

“At the heart of these allegations are two devastated families who have had their grief compounded and their trust in the police eroded. My thoughts are with them and I hope that they have been comforted by the solidarity shown since their decision to go public with what happened. 

"Following the outcome of these investigations I am determined to work with the PSNI to ensure appropriate procedures are put in place so that no family is subjected to an ordeal like this in future.”

The Police Ombudsman said it had conducted a criminal investigation and sent a file of evidence to the PPS.

In a statement, the PPS said it had received an investigation file on 23 March from the Police Ombudsman "in respect of a range of potential offences including misconduct in a public office, harassment, offences contrary to the Data Protection Act and the Computer Misuse Act and theft."

It is for the PPS to determine if officers under investigations should face prosecution.

They added: "The file is under consideration by a senior public prosecutor and we are obtaining the advice of senior counsel. Decisions will be issued in due course after a thorough consideration of all available evidence."

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