A new paper by Daniel Sprick
Public security forces in the PRC push for an ‘informatization (信息化)’ of their work, and increasingly apply analytical techniques for not only solving past crimes but also preventing future crimes. Such measures are far-reaching and part of a highly integrated framework which, according to Xi Jinping, is part of a larger policy approach for which his administration coined the phrase ‘social governance (社会治理)’. More and more different policy fields are drawn into what has been described as a ‘pluralization of security work’.
While there is still no nationwide program or concept for predictive policing in China, there are however local projects that make use of analytical data technology (e.g. in Zhongshan, Guangzhou and Hangzhou, Zhejiang) and several specific crimes (e.g. drug-related crimes and telecommunication fraud) are targeted by predictive policing measures in China. Additionally, the pervasive surveillance of the entire (Muslim) population in Xinjiang produces high volumes of data that are used for operational purposes in China’s ‘People’s War against Terror’. Daniel Sprick‘s latest paper in the Nordic Journal for Law and Social Research (available for free here) asks: Can China overcome the problems and drawbacks frequently discussed in the context of predictive policing in general?
In his paper, Daniel Sprick gives an overview of ongoing predictive policing programs and related technology- and data-driven undertakings of the Chinese security apparatus in the context of China’s comprehensive approach towards maintaining order. Based on these observations, he analyzes China’s potential for an effective predictive policing by scrutinizing the availability of possible solutions for the inherent flaws of predictive policing that are frequently conceptualized in the existing English-language literature on the matter.
He finds that it is the propagandistic value of predictive policing, promising fairness and justice to be the single most important end possibly even unsurmountable obstacle in establishing an effective crime reducing system of this kind in China. The Chinese security apparatus appears systemically unfit to critically evaluate, acknowledge error, re-adjust methodologies and adapt responses, which is an indispensable process in making predictive policing work. If predictive policing is seen as an instrument to further target specific (dissident) groups however, China may be able to successfully employ Big Data technology for this particular objective, “It is however not conceivable that this technology will substantially change police operation and police culture in China, it will rather amplify pervasiveness and bias of its practices.”
The paper is available here.
Daniel Sprick is an Associate Researcher and Lecturer at University of Cologne’s Chair for Chinese Legal Culture. He has publicized widely on law and criminal justice in China. Find out more about his work and get in touch with him here or on LinkedIn.