Police to send out thousands of warning letters to people using illegal online streaming services

People using illegal streaming services are being targeted by Norfolk and Suffolk police. Picture: G

People using illegal streaming services are being targeted by Norfolk and Suffolk police. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Thousands of people using an illegal streaming service will be sent warning letters from police over the next few days.

Norfolk and Suffolk police are taking the unprecedented step of giving out notices to people they believe are subscribing to the GE Hosting service.

The force’s cyber, intelligence and serious organised crime directorate warns anyone who ignores the letter risks being investigated by officers and receiving a prison sentence of up to five years and/or a fine, as well as a criminal record.

It is believed to be the first notice of its kind and will reinforce that police will continue to monitor subscribers’ behaviour.

Kieron Sharp, chief executive of FACT, a UK organisation which protects intellectual property, said: “This is a hugely significant step by Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary and one that has our full support.

“It sends a really clear message to those facilitating this illegal activity and additionally to those choosing to consume content in this way – users of illegal services are accountable for their actions and they will be pursued.

“This will be an alarming wake-up call for people who use illegal streams. No one wants the police knocking on their door.”

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Police are believed to have received the list of subscribers to the service after carrying out a warrant earlier this year.

On June 30 officers arrested a 24-year-old man in connection with suspected illegal streaming of premium TV channels and other copyrighted material after a property in the Hollesley area of Suffolk was searched.

The service was allegedly being distributed to tens of thousands of customers before being shut down by officers.

The 24-year-old was taken to Martlesham Police Investigation Centre for questioning and has now been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Mr Sharp added: “The running of illegal streaming services is a serious crime and by paying for these services consumers are giving their money directly to criminals. This is not a grey area. Piracy is illegal and you run the risk of prosecution and a criminal conviction.”

To report anything suspicious in terms of illegal streaming contact Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555111 or filling out a form on https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information