UK Police Want to Change the Law to Make Bitcoin Seizures Easier

A research office backed by a number of U.K. police groups has proposed changing the country’s laws to make seizing bitcoin holdings easier.

Aug 10, 2017 at 9:00 a.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 6:49 a.m. UTC

A research office backed by a number of U.K. law enforcement groups has proposed changing the country's laws to make seizing bitcoin easier.

Released last week by the N8 Policing Research Partnership, the report is largely an overview of cryptocurrencies and the challenges for law enforcement who encounter them. However, according to the authors, those challenges are largely driven by a lack of institutional knowledge among British police officials.

It goes on to outline how this problem could be addressed, suggesting a broad training initiative and the wide deployment of tracing software to investigators.

Perhaps most notably, though, the report states that the group asked the U.K. Home Office, which oversees the country's law enforcement agencies, to consider classifying bitcoin as a form of cash so that police can seize holdings more easily during investigations.

The report states:

"A recommendation has also been made to the Home Office regarding a potential legislative amendment to categorize bitcoin as cash for the purpose of cash seizure legislation."

N8, which lists 11 police groups based in and around Northern England as partners on its website, also said it has prepared guidance on how police can seize bitcoin under both the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Whether the Home Office acts on the recommendation remains to be seen. The department has investigated blockchain technology before, however. It conducted a wide-ranging research effort in 2015, which resulted in a call for the creation of a new government-backed cryptocurrency.

U.K. police image via Shutterstock


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