Press release

New unit to tackle online piracy and counterfeit crime

A new police unit aimed at targeting intellectual property crime has been announced

A new police unit aimed at targeting intellectual property crime has been announced by Intellectual Property Minister, Lord Younger and City of London Police Commissioner, Adrian Leppard today.

The unit will be dedicated to tackling online piracy and other forms of intellectual property crime such as counterfeit goods. It will be o`ne of the first units of its kind in the world, ensuring that the UK stays at the forefront of intellectual property enforcement.

The Intellectual Property Office will provide £2.5 million in funding over two years to the City of London Police, which is the National Lead Force for fraud, to establish and run the unit. It is expected the unit will be up and running in September.

Minister for Intellectual Property, 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.

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.

The Commissioner of the City of London Police, Adrian 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.

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.

Around seven million people a month visit sites offering illegal content in the UK. Globally, it is projected that digitally pirated music, films and software will account for losses of around $80bn – this is expected to rise to $240bn by 2015. According to The Creative Coalition’s TERA Report (2010), if nothing is done about copyright infringement, up to a quarter of a million jobs in the UK could be at risk by 2015.

The intention to set the unit up was announced by the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, last December.

Notes to editors:

  1. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is within the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) and is responsible for the national framework of Intellectual Property rights, comprising patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.

  2. Internationally traded counterfeited and pirated products are projected to account for between $770bn and $960bn globally by 2015 (BASCAP, Global Impacts Study, 2011).

  3. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set four ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Help us improve GOV.UK

Please don't include any personal or financial information, for example your National Insurance or credit card numbers.