A new police unit dedicated to combating film piracy and the organised criminal networks sustaining the manufacture and distribution of counterfeit film product is launched today by the Met’s Economic and Specialist Crime Command, in partnership with the Federation Against Copyright Theft [FACT].
The Unit will investigate those individuals and organisations accruing sizeable criminal profits and leading affluent lifestyles from illegal activity in the area of film piracy. The Proceeds Of Crime Act 2002 will act as a powerful tool in this respect, providing officers with the necessary powers to take the cash out of this type of crime, and in turn preventing both the funding of further criminal activity and reducing the presence of criminal role models in local communities.
With the assistance of FACT, the UK film and broadcast industry’s anti-piracy organisation, the Unit will collate intelligence on crime trends and criminal activity in the area of film piracy offences.
Initially operating for a period of 12 months, the unit will be the ‘centre of excellence’ for the investigation of film piracy offences and, a source of advice, guidance and support to other police forces in respect of such investigations.
Assistant Commissioner Tarique Ghaffur, Specialist Crime Directorate said:
“Today’s partnership launch with FACT provides us with a welcome opportunity to concentrate on an area of criminality which is often regarded as victimless. As film piracy is often linked to other criminal activity, by dismantling the organised criminal networks [OCN] involved, together we can reduce the negative impact it has on the communities of London”.
The Film Piracy Unit, comprising one Detective Sergeant and four Detective Constables, will be committed to the targeted investigation of these networks and, wherever possible will seek the successful prosecution of and/or the confiscation of goods and seizure of assets.
Detective Chief Superintendent Nigel Mawer, Head of Economic and Specialist Crime Command and the officer in overall charge of the unit added:
“By applying the legislation available to us under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 [POCA] the dedicated officers will seek not only to dismantle the OCN concerned in this area of criminality, but also to deprive those involved of the assets derived from their criminal activity. This will clearly send a message that this type of crime will not pay.”
Raymond Leinster, FACT Director General, said:
“The formation of the Metropolitan Police’s Film Piracy Unit is a unique development and will assist FACT’s capacity to address and confront the threats from the organised networks which are making significant profits from film piracy. To understand the negative impacts on communities and the wider society, you only have to examine the wide range of other criminal activities associated with film piracy, such as benefit fraud, offensive weapons and exploitation of children.
“The creation of the Unit is also proof of the increasing recognition of film piracy as a crime of significance amongst the law enforcement community.”
Home Office Minister, Andy Burnham said:
“The Met’s new Film Piracy Unit, launched in partnership with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), is another excellent example of cooperation between the police and business to tackle crime.
“Film piracy is not only damaging to legitimate film manufacture and distribution, it can also contribute to wider organised criminal activities which bring harm to our society.
“This new unit will cut crime and deliver justice by not only dismantling the criminal networks behind film piracy but also by using the Proceeds of Crime Act to take away their profits, making it clear that crime does not pay.”
Paul Evans, Director of Intervention, SOCA and Chair of CICFA said:
“The Proceeds of Crime Act has given members of the law enforcement community strong powers to take away criminal wealth and disrupt their lavish lifestyles. The Act is being used in a concerted multi agency approach to disrupt organised crime.
“I am pleased to see the set up of the Metropolitan Police’s dedicated film piracy unit, in partnership with the Federation Against Copyright Theft [FACT] and endorse the successes that working in partnership can bring.”
If members of the public have information on this type of criminality and wish to remain anonymous, they should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 .