A new unit set up to tackle intellectual property fraud in the north west of England has already seized £1.7 million (€1.98m) worth of fake goods, including clothes, electricals and fireworks.
The City of London Police, the lead force for fraud, has partnered with the Intellectual Property Office (IPO)and the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit to set up the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit. This is an extension of its intellectual property capability, based in the City, which is focussed on intellectual property crime, ranging from copyright offences to fake goods.
The unit will combat intellectual property crime in the north west of England and will support existing partners to disrupt and prosecute existing and new offenders.
On March 4th 2021, officers executed five warrants for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) offences, which resulted in two arrests, the seizure of electrical items, cash and counterfeit goods.
“The world of intellectual property crime is constantly evolving and the formation of the North West Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit clearly demonstrates that police, Government and industry are committed to protecting the UK from both established and emerging threats, many of which are now operating from online platforms,” commented Superintendent Pete Ratcliffe, City of London Police, said.
“Intellectual property crime costs our economy hundreds of millions of pounds a year and threatens thousands of jobs. The unit has ongoing investigations with an estimated potential loss to industry of £2.3 million. Through launching the NWPIPCU, we are sending out a clear warning to organised crime groups that IP crime won’t be tolerated.”
“We’re delighted to launch an Intellectual Police Property Crime Unit here in the North West today, thanks to our partners in the City of London Police,” added Superintendent, Paul Denn of the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit. “Partnerships such as these are vital when tackling counterfeit operations as they bring specialisms together from across the country to make a real difference. Today’s activities are just the start of a series of operations we will be undertaking to investigate the scale of the problem here in the North West.”
“I’d like to remind members of the public that although ‘fake goods’ may seem like an innocent way to bag a bargain, the counterfeit goods business is not a victimless crime. When people buy these goods, they’re helping to fund serious and organised crime, which in turn can lead to more drugs, guns and violence on our streets – not to mention leaving genuine businesses out of pocket.”
The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) based in London was set up in 2013 to protect UK industries which produce legitimate, high quality, physical goods and online and digital content. The operationally independent unit is funded by the Intellectual Property Office, which is part of the Department for Business Innovation. The unit works with a wide range of national and international partners from public authorities and private industry to build a comprehensive UK policing response to the threat of online intellectual property crime.
The North West unit will also be focused on influencing online behaviour by site owners, service providers and consumers through education, prevention and enforcement activity, and providing offenders where appropriate with opportunities to accept restorative justice.
“We are delighted to be further strengthening our partnership with City of London Police and building a new one with North West Regional Organised Crime Unit,” said IPO CEO, Tim Moss. “Effective collaboration is vital for success in combatting IP crime. We are excited about the vital role the new IP crime hub will play in supporting the already impressive capability of this partnership, helping to reduce counterfeit goods and copyright offences in the north west”