The police have also seized ether, monero, dash and zcash.
Authorities assure that there are obstacles in the laws related to cryptocurrencies.
The UK police have seized around 9,000 bitcoins (BTC), equivalent, at the moment, to almost $ 400 million. These coins came from activities considered illegal in that country in the last 5 years.
From 48 UK police forces, only 12 supplied the data, as reported by local media New Scientist. To access the information, they relied on the Freedom of Information law, which allows public access to information held by the authorities.
According to research, the vast majority of cryptocurrencies seized They are bitcoin, although there is also ether (ETH), Ethereum’s native cryptocurrency, the private cryptocurrency monero (XMR), dash and zcash (ZEC).
Joseph Harrop, Chief Inspector of Detectives for Greater Manchester Police, stated that the adoption of cryptocurrencies by criminals was rapid and that law enforcement agencies are struggling to acquire new skills to handle cases and confiscate funds.
At article does not state how bitcoins were obtained, product of what illegalities or how and where crypto assets are stored by the authorities. Although Harrop did acknowledge that they have recruited civilians with experience in the area of cryptocurrencies to work alongside detectives.
The UK police believe that criminals have adopted cryptocurrencies quickly.
Something that could also be striking, as mentioned at the beginning, is that only a dozen police forces gave the data, the rest chose not to disclose that information. In other words, the amount of bitcoin in the hands of the police may be much higher.
UK authorities associate bitcoin with criminals
The use of cryptocurrencies by certain criminal groups in the United Kingdom is something that the authorities have warned since 2021 in a report by the United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency.
In that document, the agency stated that “the criminal use of technology is increasing, and the use of crypto-assets to launder money has increased in various types of crimes.”
It also maintains that the adoption by traditional financial institutions it would expand the market for “criminal exploitation and the movement of criminal funds.”
One of the flaws that Detective Harrop has indicated, is related to the UK Crime Assets Act. According to this legislation, cryptocurrencies are listed as property, not cash.
Although the police can seize non-cash properties, these include cryptocurrencies, but they have a more limited scope and require a judicial conviction.
It is important to highlight, as detailed in an article by CriptoNoticias, that bitcoin cannot be confiscated or seized at the protocol level, unless the user leaves it in the hands of intermediaries such as, for example, a custody service or an exchange. In this sense, the most recommended is the use of purses that provide access to private keys.