Following a detailed investigation led by the County Council’s Trading Standards officers working in collaboration with FACT (which investigates intellectual property crime) and National Trading Standards, four individuals were sentenced on Friday 18 March 2022, at Southampton Crown Court, after being convicted on charges in connection with the illegal streaming of copyright protected material, such as Sky Sports and BT Sports, and laundering the proceeds of this illegal activity.
Councillor Edward Heron, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Recreation, Heritage and Rural Affairs, said: "Our trading standards officers are active in many areas, and often work in collaboration with other agencies, pooling expertise and skills to detect and pursue those who seek to defraud Hampshire residents. This successful prosecution in collaboration with FACT has helped to ensure that legitimate providers of digital content are supported, and crucially, that consumers are protected from downloading unregulated content. Illegal distribution of content presents significant risks – including children being easily exposed to explicit or age-inappropriate content, as well as people being exposed to malicious software and their data being misused. Other dangers might include electrical safety if adapted streaming devices don’t meet important required standards.”
Kieron Sharp, Chief Executive of FACT, added: “I would like to thank Hampshire County Council Trading Standards for taking on this case following an initial investigation by FACT, assisted by National Trading Standards. The individuals sentenced were involved in running a criminal enterprise that generated substantial profits with no regard for the rights of content owners. FACT continues to pursue those operating illegal streaming services who risk criminal convictions and forfeiture of assets.”
Trish Burls, Chair of the National Trading Standards Tri Regional Investigation Team said: “Since September 2018, officers from our Regional Investigation Team have supported Hampshire Trading Standards and were able to assist in coordinated raids, arrests and suspect interviews across UK and Ireland, supported by FACT and other regional police services. Our regional investigators were also able to provide support to the digital review of computers and other devices to assist the investigation and ultimately the successful outcome of the trial. It is hoped this should send out a clear deterrent message to all those involved in this kind of offending, that it is not a victimless crime and will be investigated at every opportunity.”
More information about Hampshire County Council Trading Standards can be found online