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How PIPCU operates

In the next two years PIPCU will be building a policing response to the threat of online intellectual property crime around the following themes:

  • Developing an operating model to ensure collaborative prevention, intervention and enforcement responses are adopted against the most harmful threats
  • Acting as the primary liaison unit for law enforcement and the copyright/brand protection community nationally and internationally and working with them to identify the most harmful criminals in the area of online intellectual property crime affecting the UK
  • Establishing the benchmark standards for referral of crimes from industry to the police
  • Developing an integrated tactical response where the activities of partner law enforcement agencies and private sector complement one another
  • Investigating, target, disrupt and prevent online intellectual property crime and where appropriate arrest and prosecute offenders identified as responsible for causing the most harm to the UK
  • Ensuring that enforcement activity is accompanied by informative awareness campaigns to deter future offending
  • Developing a communications strategy to prevent, inform and educate
  • Proactively contributing to brand protection / IP crime prevention strategies
  • Seizing criminal finances

PIPCU will integrate its activities with other key stakeholders, including industry, national and international law enforcement (i.e. HM Revenue & Customs, UK Border Agency, Trading Standards, Europol, National Crime Agency), the IPO intelligence hub and other public authorities. This will maximise effectiveness and minimise duplication of effort.

The unit is a law enforcement gatekeeper for a range of interventions against online intellectual property crime, accepting intelligence / evidential packages from stakeholders to an agreed minimum standard and recommending appropriate action. Where there is evidence of criminality, the unit will be undertaking a range of interventions depending on the threat level:

  • Early Intervention / restorative justice – utilising intelligence derived from various sources, provide opportunities for perpetrators to stop committing crime or rectify the situation
  • Disruption of online facilitators and enablers (intermediaries) – work with third party providers such as advertisers, payment service providers, social networking sites, online markets and internet service providers to prevent unlawful trading, restrict access to revenue and undertake domain seizure.
  • Influencing online behaviour by site owners, service providers and consumers through education, prevention and enforcement activity
  • Disruption of non-technical enablers including supply chains and manufacturing outlets
  • Investigation and prosecution – investigate and gather evidence against organised crime groups for arrest and prosecution.
  • Seizure of criminal assets – utilise all aspects of the Proceeds of Crime Act to either compensate victims or seize criminal assets derived from intellectual property crime.