The Chinese take a different approach to criminal justice and policing—something four Criminology students were able to experience first-hand.

Josée Thomas, Tamika Allison, Mike Duffy, and Shaune Rodney took part in a two-week travel-study that brought them to a Chinese police college, justice buildings, and police departments.

Thomas, of Fredericton, NB, said the time spent in China with her classmates offered an authentic learning experience.

“It was really awakening to see how many differences there are between the two countries. There are similarities too, but how China approaches a lot of things is vastly different.”

The study group, which was a result of the collaboration between the Endowed Chair in Criminology Dr. John Winterdyk, Mount Royal University, and STU, spent a portion of their time at the Zhejiang Police College. They stayed on campus there, took part in some classes, and gave a presentation about the Canadian criminal justice system.

“We got to meet a lot of police officers, and although there were language barriers at times, there were some that were quite fluent in English. It was neat to talk to them and ask them questions,” Thomas said.

The biggest difference Thomas noted between the Chinese and Canadian approaches to policing and criminal justice is the reliance on technology.

“They don’t patrol in China. They don’t need to because of their technology,” she said. “They rely highly on video. We went to one of the cities that had about 7 million people in it and they have 20,000 cameras throughout the city that are high definition.”

The group also visited three different police departments, one of the Chinese justice buildings, and sat in on a trial. They were able to stop at a number of notable landmarks as well, including the Terracotta Army.

For Thomas, the highlight of the trip was the opportunity to get a closer look at the cameras at a local police department.

“I feel like in movies you see how high-tech cameras can be, but then you see security footage in Canada and it’s blurry,” she said. “In China you can see all of the facial features and can zoom in manually.”

Although she missed Spring Convocation to take part in the travel-study, Thomas said the opportunity was “not something you can do on your own.”

“Getting to go there and experience it yourself makes it more genuine,” she said. “It was a fantastic hands-on learning experience.”