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Phuket crime surge: Chalong's police chief explains the situation in Karon

Latest: Phuket Crime Surge Sparks Public Protest

Monday, June 15, 2009
OUT-OF-CONTROL crime on Phuket brought a public protest by about 200 people today at Karon temple, with anger mounting especially about the rising number of house breakings and robberies.

Phuket's most senior policeman admitted to Phuketwan this afternoon that a surge in crime generated by the economic downturn is proving too much for the island's small number of officers.

Karon is the first district on the island to lodge a public protest. Demonstrators today gave Chalong police 10 days to halt the thefts, or face another protest, next time at the police station.

Village chief Winai Chidchiew of Tambon Karon said the local people no longer trusted the Chalong police chief, who had never listened to the complaints of local people.

To his credit, Police Colonel Chinnarat Rittakananon confronted his critics, telling them that the economic downturn was causing serious problems for local police.

Chalong police have a large area to cover, and the promised new police station at Karon has yet to eventuate.

Phuket is policed by a total of about 1100 officers, who have to cover three shifts. With days off and other absences, the island has less than 300 police on duty at any one time.

Speaking out at today's protest, Khun Winai said that gambling, drugs, illegal hours for operating entertainment venues and corruption were some of Karon's problems.

The victims were both local people and tourists, he added.

''We ask the Royal Thai Police to give us officers of good quality,'' Khun Winai said.

The mayor of Tessaban Tambon Karon, Tawee Tongcham, said robberies were once rare in Karon but now occurred almost every day.

''Sometimes when people call police they don't pick up the telephone,'' he said.

''Police boxes in the district are supposed to be checked regularly. But some never are these days.''

The idea of the Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob, to have local people safeguard the island (''the thousand eyes of the pineapple'') by staying vigilant was a good one, he said.

In Karon, people could not rely for help on police, he said.

In response to news of the protest, Phuket's Police Chief, Police Major General Pekad Tantipong, told Phuketwan today that crime was increasing all over the island, not just in Chalong.

''It's the same throughout Thailand,'' he said. ''It's not just happening on Phuket.''

He said there was a chronic island-wide shortage of police to deal with a population the size of Phuket, made even worse by the desperation caused by the economic downturn.

With no money coming in, people were turning to crime more often, he said.

A solution was difficult but the major general said Phuket police were attempting to make the most of their existing resources.

''When there's a major problem in one of the districts, we will move extra police to that district,'' he said. ''We will try to help if there is a crisis in any police zone.''

The number of police officers on Phuket relates directly to the official population of 320,000, which is estimated to be less than half the real population.

Add tourists on top of that, and about 1100 officers police a population of about a million people in some high season months.

A similar dispute between the people of Kamala and local police escalated earlier this year into a road blockade that lasted for three days. Another dispute and blockade followed at Surin.

Governor Wichai has been given a guarantee by all the village chiefs on the island that the important regional Asean Plus Six Summit, scheduled for Phuket in October, will not be disrupted.

But if Phuket's crime surge continues unabated, with the number of police officers not sufficient to cope, those promises may prove difficult to keep.

Phuketwan will be pursuing this issue. Look for our reports


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Comments

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The problems of increased crime occurs every year during the 'Low-Season' Opps, I mean "Summer-Time" (what bunch of idiots came up with that one? Anyway back to the issue at hand. Maybe, just maybe, if the Police stopped setting up the check-point, all day, everyday, at Chalong Circle, there would be at least another 10 Officers out patrolling. It all comes down to poor management of resources and people. Let's be honest the average cop here hasn't got a clue what policing is or how to do it. Their only interest is in setting up checkpoints to make as much cash as possible. OK, I will grant you that this year has seen a greater downturn in average incomes due to the global economic crisis but that doesn't alter the fact that the policing situation in Phuket and indeed the rest of the country is sub-standard at best.

Posted by Noddy on June 16, 2009 08:00

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Regarding crime on phuket, i agree the police maybe overstretched in peak season to a certain extent, so without throwing stones in glass houses i wish to give my personal opinion.

Crime has been rife for many years on the island, just the same as most places i hear you say, but one thing the police must address is--- phuket is touted as a tourist hot spot, most tourist places elsewhere have very efficient policing , thats why many people feel safe and may return again, but phuket is rapidly going downhill, the police colonel who said it was because of the economic downturn maybe have a point.

But if the police don't get a grip soon i wouldn't think of increasing the force, they may just decrease it because there will be so few tourist there.

Posted by freaquent_visior on June 20, 2009 02:34


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