More than 1,000 PSNI staff members have now been referred to an emergency threat assessment group.

The group was set up this week to provide security advice following two data breaches.

The group is providing immediate support to people with specific circumstances which may place them or their families at risk or at an increased threat of harm.

This evening, the PSNI said there have been 1,200 staff referrals to the service so far.

It comes after the Chief Constable of the PSNI met representatives from all staff associations, including the Catholic Guild, which represents a significant number of Catholic members of the PSNI..

A statement from the PSNI said that Chief Constable Simon Byrne listened to the issues or concerns and reiterated his priority to the welfare and safety of all officers and staff.

"He also reassured the Guild that he was committed to supporting everyone affected by the recent data breach," it said.

The Catholic Police Guild had raised concerns about the implications of the data breaches for potential new recruits from the Catholic community.

In a statement, the PSNI said Chief Constable Byrne "listened to any issues or concerns and reiterated his priority is the welfare and safety of all officers and staff".

Earlier, Guild chairman Superintendent Gerry Murray said it was hard to think of a more pressing issue for Catholic members of the force than the data breaches that came to light this week.

"Everyone understands the particular difficulties faced by Catholic members of the PSNI and indeed the implications of this for potential new recruits from the Catholic community.

"Our members have expressed genuinely held concerns over the release of this information, they are worried for themselves and in many cases for their family members. As Chairman of the Guild I am also concerned about the impact on future recruitment of young Catholics into the police service."

Supt Murray said the serious data breaches require a full response from senior ranks and called for an urgent meeting with Chief Constable Byrne.

"We want to be assured that the data breach will be fully and quickly investigated and procedures put in place to ensure it cannot happen again," he said.

"Catholic officers and staff who feel vulnerable need to be supported in protecting themselves, their families and their homes. The Police Service must acknowledge and take account of the particular sensitivities of the Catholic members of the Force," he said.

"The community background of police officers and staff has to be given the proportionate weight when considering the implications of this data breach on serving officers."

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This week's data breach involved the personal details, including the surnames, rank and locations of more than 10,000 personnel mistakenly published online in response to a freedom of information request.

The data was available online for up to three hours on Tuesday.

Details of another breach following the theft of documents and a laptop from a car in Newtownabbey in July emerged on Wednesday.

Scores of officers have expressed concern for their safety in Northern Ireland where police are under threat from terrorists, with the current assessed level of threat at severe, meaning an attack is highly likely.

Chief Constable Byrne answered questions from politicians in a closed session of the Northern Ireland Policing Board yesterday.

Speaking at a media conference after the meeting, he revealed that dissident republican terrorists had claimed to be in possession of some of the data, but said that claim had not yet been verified.

When the former police force the RUC transitioned to become the PSNI in 2001, a temporary recruitment measure was used to welcome even numbers of Catholic and Protestant officers, referred to as 50/50 recruitment.