UK Police Lobbying for New Laws Allowing Them to Freeze Cryptocurrencies

UK police are lobbying the government to change the laws to allow them to freeze cryptocurrencies. Scotland Yard detectives say currently account-freezing orders do not apply to cryptocurrency wallets, making it difficult for the police to stop criminals from transferring funds.

UK Police Want New Laws to Let Them Freeze Cryptocurrencies

Scotland Yard detectives are lobbying the government for new laws to let them freeze crypto assets of criminals, The Times reported last week.

Mick Gallagher, a retired detective chief superintendent at the Metropolitan Police, explained that the laws on freezing assets are outdated, therefore cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, could not always be frozen or seized by the police. Gallagher, who spent 37 years in the Metropolitan Police, retired at the end of last month.

“The conversations that we’re having is about how we align cryptocurrency to the same kind of approach that we have about cash-based criminality,” he told the publication, noting that “Cryptocurrency is invisible, it’s instant, it goes around the world, it’s not tangible.” The retired detective noted that “One of the responses we have is legislation,” emphasizing:

Because cryptocurrency, and criminality involving crypto, has developed so quickly, and because legislation is so slow, we’re having conversations now about realigning some legislation that currently applies to laundered cash to cryptocurrency.

Gallagher explained that the current account-freezing orders and other money-laundering laws apply to cash and other assets, but not cryptocurrency, making it difficult for the police to stop criminals from transferring funds from bank accounts.

He and other senior detectives are lobbying the government to make changes to the laws pertaining to the freezing of assets. Gallagher noted that based on their discussions so far the government has been supportive and keen to help them tackle organized crime.

Gallagher said that “It’s about definitions,” elaborating:

In some legislation we have about account-freezing orders, the word account is a critical word. But there is no such thing as an account in the world of cryptocurrency as they use wallets. So you just have to make slight legislative tweaking so that the wording includes wallet.

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