Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Friday, 20 March 2009

Google 'reckless' on NI security

Northern Ireland, as show on the Streetview service
A car entering a police station, as show on the Streetview service. (Number plate blurred by BBC)

An assembly member has branded Google "reckless" for including photos of the perimeters of police stations and army barracks in NI on a new service.

The street-mapping facility launched in a fanfare of publicity but some images have been removed after complaints.

Two soldiers were shot dead outside an Army barracks in Antrim two weeks ago. Ian Paisley Jnr, DUP, said Google had "given security services a headache".

But Google said it only showed images visible from a public street.

The Street View service launched on Thursday and Google said it had gone to great lengths to ensure privacy.

The entrance gates and perimeters of most police stations in greater Belfast are visible on the service.

In one photo, viewed by BBC Northern Ireland, the number plate of a car entering a police station was unblurred.

Mr Paisley, an assembly member and member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, said it was "incredibly stupid."

"This endangers the public," said Mr Paisley,

"Even though the images can be removed they are now out there.

"It will be a case of bolting the stable door. The people who have been viewing the images should be traced by the security services."

Ian Paisley Jnr believes the service has been "reckless"
Ian Paisley Jnr believes the service has been "reckless"

The issue of security has become paramount in Northern Ireland again following the dissident republican murders of the two soldiers outside Masserene Army barracks in Antrim on 7 March and the killing of a policeman in County Armagh two days later.

Neither the MoD nor the Police Service of Northern Ireland said they wished to comment on the Street View service.

Google said the images on Street View were "no different from what a person can readily see or capture walking down the street. Imagery of this kind is available in a wide variety of formats for cities all around the world".

A Google spokeswoman added: "We spoke to the Police Service of Northern Ireland before we started driving, and made sure they were aware of the project - they did not raise any concerns.

"In fact, the police in the UK and elsewhere have welcomed Google Maps and Street View as a helpful tool to raise awareness of crime, and in some cases even help deal with crime itself."

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