A new police unit focusing on targeting online piracy and counterfeit crime has been set up.
Intellectual Property Minister Lord Younger and City of London Police Commissioner Adrian Leppard jointly launched the new unit – one of the first of its kind in the world – on Friday.
Originally announced by Business Secretary Vince Cable in December, the unit is expected to be operational in September. £2.5 million in funding will be provided by the Intellectual Property Office to the City of London Police over the next two years to establish and operate the unit. The City of London Police is the National Lead Force for fraud.
Mr Leppard, said: “Intellectual property crime is costing the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds each year, with organised crime gangs causing significant damage to industries that produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content in an increasingly competitive climate." Hed continued: “The establishment of a new online intellectual property crime unit is evidence of the Government and City of London Police’s commitment to confront this threat. Together we are creating an operationally independent police unit that will co-ordinate the national and international response from law enforcement and public and private sector partners so we can effectively target those who continue to illegally profiteer on the back of others endeavours. In doing so, we will also be safeguarding jobs and protecting people’s personal and computer safety by ensuring they are not exposed to counterfeit goods and unauthorised copyrighted content.”
Lord Younger said: “Intellectual property crime has long been a problem in the world of physical goods, but with the growing use of the internet, online intellectual property crime is now an increasing threat to our creative industries. These industries are worth more than £36 billion a year and employ more than 1.5 million people. He added: “Government and our law enforcement agencies must do all they can to protect our creative industries and the integrity of consumer goods. By working with the City of London Police, who have recognised expertise in tackling economic crime, we are showing how committed this Government is to supporting business and delivering economic growth.”
Approximately seven million people a month visit sites offering illegal content in the UK. It is estimated that on a global scale, digitally pirated music, films and software account for losses of around $80 billion, a figure expected to rise to $240 billion by 2015. If nothing is done to stem the problem, up to a quarter of a million jobs in the UK could be at risk by 2015, according to a 2010 report by The Creative Coalition.