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Posted on Friday 13 January 2023
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A day of action has seen a robust partnership operation targeting illegal streaming and the wider disruption of organised crime. 

On Wednesday, officers from the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) were joined by FACT, the UK’s leading intellectual property protection organisation protecting brands and businesses against fraud, to serve notices to individuals to cease illegal streaming activities. 

Our officers also spent time educating people around the associated risks, such as a criminal prosecution, as well as the wider impact illegal streaming can have in helping fund serious and organised crime such as human trafficking, child sexual exploitation and drug supply.

Users are also being advised of the many other risks associated with illegal streaming, including fraud, scams, exposure to inappropriate content, viruses, and malware. 

Recent research discovered that 50 popular illegal streaming sites contained malicious content, while over 40% of them did not have a security certificate. Half of people who illegally stream in the UK say they or someone they know have been a victim of scams, ID theft, fraud or data loss as a result, and 41% have been exposed to inappropriate content. 

North East GAIN Co-Ordinator and Disruption Team Manager, from NEROCU, Kev Benson, said: “By working with partners we’re able to demonstrate the full extent of our resources and intelligence at our disposal to take action against those breaking the law. 

“While most people think paying for illegal streaming devices and services is a victimless crime – this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

“Illegal streaming services that supply entertainment and sports content via modified boxes, firesticks, and subscriptions, help fund wider organised crime such as human trafficking, drug supply and distribution and other sinister crimes. 

“Under the banner of Operation Sentinel we will continue to disrupt and tackle serious and organised crime here in the North East.” 

FACT Chief Executive, Kieron Sharp, said: “We would like to thank the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN), the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), West Mercia Police, and other police forces across the country, for their support to help ensure that the public are made aware of the dangers of using illegal streaming services and, more importantly, that they understand that there is the risk of criminal prosecution.” 

To find out more about the dangers of illegal streaming and to find out where to watch content legally, please visit the FACT website. 

FACT work with Crimestoppers to make it easy to report illegal content online. Crimestoppers is an independent charity that allows anyone to report anonymously by calling 0800 555 111.

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