Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary have taken the unprecedented step of issuing individual warning notices to thousands of consumers believed to have been using an illegal TV streaming service.
The warning, which was issued by Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary Cyber, Intelligence and Serious Organised Crime Directorate, has been issued to subscribers of a service called GE Hosting and states that subscribing to these services is a crime which carries a maximum sentence of up to five years imprisonment and/or a fine, and consequently results in a criminal record.
The notice, believed to be one of the first of its kind to be aimed at consumers of illegal streaming services, also makes clear that Police will continue to monitor subscribers’ behaviour and that should recipients ignore the instruction to cease illegal streaming it could lead to further investigation and even prosecution.
Police are believed to have obtained the list of subscribers to the service after having carried out a warrant earlier this year. On June 30 officers arrested a man in connection with suspected illegal streaming of premium TV channels and other copyrighted material. The service was allegedly being distributed to tens of thousands of customers before being shut down by officers.
Kieron Sharp, CEO of FACT, said: “This is a hugely significant step by Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary and one that has our full support. It sends a really clear message to those facilitating this illegal activity and additionally to those choosing to consume content in this way – users of illegal services are accountable for their actions and they will be pursued. This will be an alarming wake-up call for people who use illegal streams. No one wants the police knocking on their door.
The running of illegal streaming services is a serious crime and by paying for these services consumers are giving their money directly to criminals. This is not a grey area. Piracy is illegal and you run the risk of prosecution and a criminal conviction.”
The action is the latest in a series of raids and subsequent prosecutions designed to crackdown on illegal streaming and those profiting from it.
Last week, Paul Jaques, 44, from Pontefract was sentenced to two years in prison for selling illicit streaming devices.
In June this year, Mark Schofield, 49, from Radcliffe was sentenced to 24 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years for selling devices that provided access to paid-for content including sport and films via his Facebook page.
This followed the conviction of Daniel Aimson, 39, from Astley who was sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud. Aimson sold illegal devices that bypassed paid-for TV content – costing legitimate service providers more than £2million.
There have also been numerous raids up and down the country as Police tackle the sources of this illegal activity.
If you come across any content that doesn’t look legitimate, FACT works with Crimestoppers to make it easy for you to report it. Contact Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111 or filling out their online form