Government gives £3 million boost to anti-IP crime unit

The government has announced it will provide £3 million to fund the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) until 2017.

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The government has announced it will provide £3 million to fund the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) until 2017.

Since its launch PIPCU has investigated £29 million worth of IP crime, suspended 2,359 domain names and diverted five million visits from copyright infringing websites to a PIPCU holding page, according to the annual IP Crime Report out last week.

The unit, part of the City of London Police, launched in September 2013 with an initial £2.56 million in funding up to 2015. Yesterday, the government confirmed it will provide the extra funding needed for it to operate "for another two years".

The money will come from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) budget. PIPCU is operationally independent but works closely with the Intellectual Property Office, a BIS agency.

The government estimates that intellectual property crime costs the UK at least £1.3 billion in lost profits and taxes.

An IPO spokesperson explained to ComputerworldUK that the funding is temporary as the government is currently "looking at ways in which to secure its longer-term funding".

She said: "We want to find opportunities for PIPCU to widen the depth and breadth of its activities".

She praised PIPCU's work so far, saying that it had made a "substantial impact on the intellectual property crime scene already, not only for fake goods, but in particular for digital piracy too."

The 21-person PIPCU team is comprised of detectives, police investigators, researchers, analysts, an education officer and a communications officer.

There are also two secondees: a senior intelligence office from the UK Intellectual Property Office and an internet investigator from the British Recorded Music Industry, a trade association, the unit said.

City of London Police commander Steve Head said PIPCU “has quickly established itself as an integral part of the national response to a problem that is costing the UK more than a billion pounds a year.”

“Much of this success is down to PIPCU moving away from traditional policing methods and embracing new and innovative tactics,” he added.

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