Chinese Law Prof Blog

Editor: Donald C. Clarke
George Washington University Law School

Monday, January 3, 2011

Beijing police experiment with new case registration system

Here's an interesting experiment: effective March 1, 2011, people bringing a case to the police will be able to register it on line, track its progress, and evaluate the performance of the officer in charge. A problem with the current system (and if you've seen The Wire, you'll guess it's probably not unique to China) is that police officers are evaluated by their rate of case closings. This means they have an incentive not to take cases that will be tough to solve. As a result, your complaint may go unheard. The new system is supposed to solve that problem: the case can get registered on line before it is officially accepted (立案), so parties at least have something they can point to as they pester the police to take action.

Naturally, having heard many, many stories of police reforms that go nowhere, hotlines that ring unanswered, and ombudsmen who beat up complainants, I'm a little cynical about whether this will really amount to anything. Among other things, the system apparently still requires a formal police acknowledgment that the case exists at some level in order to get it into the on-line database. Thus, you're still stuck if the police just fold their arms and do nothing. Still, it's an interesting idea that's worth watching.

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