About the Alliance

Councillors unaware of key crime fighting tool

8 August 2008

An overwhelming majority of councillors and council officers believe that IP crime is a serious criminal activity, and that ensuring criminals do not benefit financially from their crimes is a priority for law enforcers. 

However, over half are not aware of an important piece of legislation which can make sure this does not happen. 

This valuable information came to light following a survey conducted by the Alliance Against Intellectual Property (IP) Theft amongst delegates at the recent Local Government Association. 

While 95% of delegates agreed that criminals should not benefit from their crimes over half (55%) were unaware that not only is IP crime a lifestyle offence under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA), but importantly that local authorities can benefit financially from successful confiscation orders. 

IP offences are ‘lifestyle offences’ under POCA, with the assumption that all the money and assets accumulated over the past six years are proceeds of criminal activity.   In confiscation proceedings the onus is on the defendant to prove otherwise.  Trading standards and their local authority financially benefits from the incentivisation scheme that runs alongside this, which provides for a proportion of any confiscation order to be returned to the prosecuting authorities (including TS).  

Commenting on the results, Susie Winter, Director General of the Alliance, said:

“IP crime harms every community in the UK.  Consumers are put at risk by the selling of sub-standard and occasionally dangerous goods and local businesses and legitimate traders suffer as they are unable to compete with the criminal gangs.  These criminals are also usually involved in other forms of criminality and anti-social behaviour, thereby making the targeting of IP criminals a very efficient use of enforcement resources.

“It is time to hit these people where it hurts.  Allowing IP criminals out of prison with the financial wherewithal to continue producing and selling fake goods does not bring any lasting benefit to communities.  A POCA confiscation order can strip them of their assets with the added bonus being that the incentivisation scheme means trading standards budgets are stretched unnecessarily. 

“It can also provide a source of income for other LA work, unrelated to enforcement activity.  We urge all local authorities to make sure they are making full use of this important piece of crime fighting legislation”.

 

For furtrer information please contact
Susie Winter at susie@allianceagainstiptheft.co.uk
or on 020 78031324