Liu Xiaobo wins Nobel Peace Prize

Jailed Chinese pro-democracy activist is honoured in spite of Beijing's criticisms

Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has been named as this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, despite warnings from Beijing that his selection could damage China-Norway relations.

Liu was jailed in December 2009 for co-authoring a 2008 manifesto which called for, among other things, multi-party elections and free speech. He is currently serving an eleven-year sentence in a prison in Jinzhou, 500km outside of Beijing, for "inciting subversion of state power". Previous reports suggest that he could well be among the last to find out about his prize.

A university academic, Liu has repeatedly been arrested and sentenced for his participation in human rights protests, including the Tiananmen Square protest in 1989.

His win, from prison, will be particular galling for the Chinese government, which has previously been outspoken about his nomination for the prize. Back in February, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said:

"If the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to such a person, it is obvious that it is totally wrong."

The prize comes with an award of 10 million Swedish crowns (around £950,000), usually presented along with the prize itself at a ceremony in Oslo in December. It is not yet known whether anyone will collect Liu's prize on his behalf.

Caroline Crampton is assistant editor of the New Statesman. She writes a weekly podcast column.

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As crime moves online, the police need the investment in technology to follow

Technology offers solutions, not just threats.

It’s perhaps inevitable that as the world becomes more digital, so does crime. This week Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, recognised that online crime is as serious as face-to-face crime. “Hate is hate,” Saunders wrote referring to internet abuse, and the police should protect people from it wherever they are. This will add demand to under-pressure police forces. And it is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Forty-seven per cent of crime involves an online element. Police recorded 30,000 instances of online stalking and harassment last year. People are 20 times more likely to be a victim of fraud than robbery, costing businesses an estimated £144bn a year. On a conservative estimate, 2,500 UK citizens use the anonymous dark web browser, Tor, for illegal purposes such as drug dealing, revenge porn and child sexual exploitation.

The police need new technology to meet demand, a Reform report published today finds. Some progress has been made in recent years. West Midlands Police uses an online portal for people to report incidents. Durham uses evidence-gathering software to collect social media information on suspects, and then instantly compile a report that can be shared with courts. Police have benefited from smartphones to share information, and body-worn cameras, which have reduced complaints against police by 93 per cent.

Yet, Theresa May’s 2016 remarks that police use “technology that lags woefully behind what they use as consumers” still stand. Officers interviewed for Reform’s research implored: “Give us the tools to do our job”.

Online evidence portals should be upgraded to accept CCTV footage. Apps should be developed to allow officers to learn about new digital threats, following the US army’s library of knowledge-sharing apps. Augmented-reality glasses are being used in the Netherlands to help officers identify evidence at digital crime scenes. Officers would save a trip back to the station if they could collect fingerprints on smartphones and statements on body-worn cameras.

New technology requires investment, but forces are reducing the resources put into IT as reserves have dried up. Durham plans to cut spend by 60 per cent between 2015-16 and 2019-20. The government should help fund equipment which can meet demand and return future productivity savings. If the Home Office invested the same as the Department of Health, another department pushing “transformative” technology, it would invest an extra £450m a year. This funding should come from administrative savings delivered through accelerating the Government’s automation agenda, which the think tank Reform has previously calculated would save Whitehall £2.6bn a year.

As crime moves online, police must follow. Saunders is right to point to the importance of meeting it. But technology offers solutions, not just threats. Installing the next generation of equipment will give police the tools to do their jobs, addressing online hate and more. 

Alexander Hitchcock is a senior researcher at reform