Police seeks tech to investigate crypto crime

City of London force plans to spend £1.8m on forensics investigation service available to all UK law-enforcement agencies

The National Police Chiefs’ Council is seeking to invest in technology to enable all police forces and law-enforcement bodies across the UK to investigate crime involving cryptocurrency and other blockchain technologies.

On behalf of the NPCC, the City of London Police is leading a tender process seeking a software that can support forensic investigation of “all popular blockchains, tokens and non-fungible tokens [and] have industry-leading attribution to known entities and support automated cross chain [and] asset tracing”, according to a newly published contract notice.

“The triage capability should cover a wide range of blockchains, tokens and NFTs,” the notice added. “It should ingest a range of blockchain identifiers including but not limited to, addresses, transaction hashes, and extended public keys. It should use automated tracing across blockchains and tokens to producing a single comprehensive intelligence report that can inform investigative decisions.”

Over the course of a two-year contract expected to be worth £1.8m, the software will be available to all UK police forces, regional organised crime units and other law enforcement agencies including the Serious Fraud Office.

The procurement process follows increased police activity to tackle fraud involving cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-based technologies. Freedom of Information requests by the Observer in 2022 found that more than half the 27 police forces which provided data had seized digitally-stored cryptocurrency assets in 2021. They found 22 types of cryptocurrency, up from just four types in 2020, showing the need to work across blockchain systems. June and July 2021 saw the Metropolitan Police seize two sets of cryptocurrency worth £114m and £180m respectively, the largest to date.

City of London Police, which is the national lead force for fraud and cyber crime, conducted a market testing exercise in January and is buying the software as part of the National Police Chiefs’ Council Cybercrime Programme. “The programme is looking for a service that evolves with the rapid innovation in this area to keep UK law enforcement at the cutting edge of blockchain investigation,” the notice says.

Bids for the project are open to 25 April.

PublicTechnology staff

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