The City of London recently announced that its police department will receive training in handling criminal cases that involve cryptocurrencies. London cites calls from police officers for guidance on handling cases that involve Bitcoin in this decesion. The training is being rolled out as a test program that will begin in August.
This announcement comes hard on the heels of an announcement that London will launch a “Cyber Court” as early as 2025. The Cyber Court will tackle the problem of online fraud in the financial sector. This has been interpreted as a way for England to demonstrate its status as a country where the rule of law matters in issues of cybersecurity and finance in the coming post-Brexit era.
This project was likely inspired by concerns about cryptocurrencies being used for financial crimes such as money laundering. Government officials and the financial sector stress that billions of dollars’ worth of financial crimes could be enabled by the technology behind Bitcoin and have sometimes used that as an excuse to call for the outright banning of cryptocurrencies, often ignoring the fact that banks and fiat currencies are also heavily used in financial crimes.
Does Bitcoin require special effort when it comes to law enforcement, though? As evidenced by recent testimony before a U.S. House of Representatives panel hearing, some experts seem to disagree. A crime has not yet been committed using Bitcoin that hasn’t already been committed using banks and cash for all that banks and the politicians who take their campaign contributions would like the public to ignore and forget that fact. So it’s hard to feel too sorry for politicians who get humiliated by the cryptocurrency community when they and their campaign backers try to spread FUD.
It would be interesting to see the curriculum that the City of London intends to use to train its police force. Did London hire actual cryptocurrency experts to help design it? Or did the city just have its interns try to find the needles of useful information in the haystacks of FUD and propaganda on the Internet? The City of London Police Department does not seem to be very interested in transparency in this regard.