City of London Police has cracked down on sites illegally hosting copyrighted content, resulting in the suspension of 40 websites.
The initiative is being headed up by the new Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) in order to stop websites that are providing "unauthorised access to copyrighted content".
Operation Creative, an alliance between City of London Police and the creative and advertising industries, identified 61 websites hosting pirated content during the three month pilot of the initiative.
"Operation Creative is being run by PIPCU and the digital and advertising sectors to really get to grips with a criminal industry that is making substantial profits by providing and actively promoting access to illegally obtained and copyrighted material," said Superintendent Bob Wishart from PIPCU.
"Together we have created a process that first and foremost encourages offenders to change their behaviour so they are operating within the law. However, if they refuse to comply we now have the means to persuade businesses to move their advertising to different platforms and, if offending continues, for registrars to suspend the websites."
During the pilot, City of London Police reported that adverts from well-known brands decreased by 12 per cent. However, adverts that led the user to sites with malware or explicit adult content increased by 39 per cent during the pilot, leading to the conclusion that when adverts from established brands are removed site owners will struggle to maintain their revenue.
Kieron Sharp, FACT Director General, said: "FACT is delighted to be working with PIPCU and partners from the advertising, music and publishing sectors to protect UK consumers from websites that promote illegal content and also provide an unsafe platform that puts themselves and their families at risk. Many of these sites have no content filters and contain material that is unsuitable for children."