Undercover investigations - Counterfeit investigation

Undercover investigations

A CITY council is planning to pay private detectives to do undercover investigations and act as professional witnesses against suspected pimps and prostitutes. The controversial proposal by Birmingham City Council is a response to growing anger from residents over the number of prostitutes working in the West Midlands and the lack of prosecutions against pimps.

But an association representing the city's police officers has described the idea as a "complete non-starter", and said policing should be left to the professionals.

Under the scheme, the council could pay up to pounds 3,000 a week to private detective agencies forcovert surveillance on a suspected brothel in local authority accommodation. Evidence of illegal activity would be used to evict the tenants and could be used in criminal prosecutions. The use of professional civilian witnesses has been used in Manchester to track down drug dealers and nuisance neighbours, but Birmingham is believed to be the first city to consider using it against vice. Part of the difficulty in obtaining a successful prosecution or eviction has been the lack of willing witnesses, because of fears of retribution.

Counterfeit investigation

The World Trade Organization opened a formal counterfeit investigation into allegations that China was providing a safe haven for product piracy and counterfeiting, the most far reaching of four current trade disputes between Washington and Beijing. The United States complaint over China's enforcement of intellectual property rights is the culmination of years of agitation in Washington and elsewhere over one of the world's biggest sources of illegally copied goods, ranging from DVDs, CDs and designer clothes to sporting goods and medications. A United States trade official, Dan Hunter, told the W.T.O's dispute settlement body that while China had taken steps to improve protection and enforcement of property rights, it had not done enough. China criticized the United States this year for starting the case, saying it could damage trade relations between the countries.

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