Public firms have been tasked to build financial instruments to assist City of London Police with battle against copyright infringement

The Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) is a specialised police unit focused on protecting the online and digital content produced by a wide array of UK industries from copyright theft. With the technological advances and the ever-growing significance of the digital economy, digital copyright theft has become an increasingly difficult issue, overwhelming the police, other law enforcement agencies and the justice system.

In order to strengthen their force at tackling digital copyright theft, PIPCU decided to join their forces with private law firms and corporate finance consultancies, which will assist in attempts to seize suspects’ assets as well as pursue civil prosecution. Regardless of the outcome, the police may still pursue cases through criminal court. This radical and innovative partnership will lead to speeding up the lengthy process of seizing the proceeds of the crimes of convicts. In the meantime, the law firm will pursue the suspect in civil courts. Why is this useful? - One might wonder. In Civil Courts, convictions are significantly less lengthy and difficult. Without criminal charges, the requirement for evidence is lower.

Under the shakeup being piloted, a law firm will pursue the suspect in the civil courts before any conviction and possibly even without a criminal charge. The burden of proof is lower in civil courts, and they will only have to show that the suspect stole the money on the balance of probabilities. The lead law firm taking part in the operation, mainly targeting fraud is Mischon de Reya, best known for representing Princess Diana in her divorce from Prince Charles.

According to the Office for National Statistics there had been more than 5.8m incidents of cybercrime in 2015, which double the headline crime rate in England and Wales. The police simply do not have the resources to investigate and pursue this level of crime, however, the involvement of private sectors in the criminal justice system enables this. If the efforts of PIPCU succeed, it will be a great example of how the collaboration of private and public sectors can multiply the results of tacking financial crimes.