The international volunteers who work out of Patong Police Station are looking for more people to assist in the program.
Requirements to be a Volunteer are to be from another country, over 21 years of age, Hold an ''O,'' ''B'' or other long term Visa, Have an understanding of Thai Culture and possess some basic Thai Language.
At present there are 18 volunteers from nine countries and between them they speak 21 languages. Fifteen volunteers are male and three are female.
Our main aim is to assist tourists who are visiting Thailand and we help out mainly in Phuket. Region 8 Volunteers are part of the Provincial Royal Thai Police from the Headquaters in Surat Thani/South)
Our objective is to be a link between the tourist and the Thai community. We are the independent person when someone has a problem.
As an independent person, not involved in the conflict or issue, we are able to be rational when explaining a problem that a tourist may have with the police, a Thai national, another tourist or a Government body.
We provide assistance in many ways, interpretation of languages using the languages of all in our groups. In the past we have provided assistance for tourists with Thai people, police, courts, hospitals, Immigration, embassies and consulates and Thai Government agencies.
We take a lead role in assisting the police in Patong and we are continually being asked to assist police in other parts of Phuket.
We provide that little bit more when special events are on, Phuket carnival: Blues Festival, Loy Kratong and Songkran Festival are examples, where we have been used to support security and tourist safety.
We also assist tourists and expats in distress. This is an area where we should do more and with additional people. I'm sure we can.
The three groups of Foreign Volunteers work together in providing a conflict-free environment for tourists, Region 8, Immigration and Tourist Police.
The history of the Region 8 Volunteers began when the tsunami hit Phuket in 2004 and a group of local expats assisted the police and the hospital with injured tourists.
Shortly after that they were annexed under the Thai Tourist Police. In March 2007 a group of the Volunteers began working for the Thai Immigration Police and officially became the ''Immigration Police Volunteers'' and also had Volunteers assisting in the Immigration Office.
In 2010 some of the Volunteers elected to work directly under the new Colonel in Patong Police Station and are officially known as the ''Region 8 Provincial Police, Tourist Assistance Volunteers.''
The new Colonel, Chiraphat Pochanaphan of Patong Police Station, has welcomed the Region 8 Volunteers with open arms and invites us to attend meetings and events where our opinions regarding tourist safety can be voiced.
Region 8 Volunteers have been asked to resolve issues in many areas and police stations around Phuket. When we are asked to assist we gladly respond where we can. We are looking at ways to improve our response time.
A Typical Night on Patrol
The volunteers meet at the Bangla Police Box in Patong (never less than two people per patrol Team) sign in, talk to the police on duty about what other groups are working, any other issues to be aware of and proceed with their patrol.
They walk Soi Bangla, Soi Sansabai, Rat-U-tit and the beach road. Then repeat, concentrating on Soi Bangla as the night progresses.
Sometimes patrols will be made with senior officers from Kathu Police Station and with Visiting Senior Officials.
If we are called for by the police, or by the Police Station, we break from patrol and go to assist.
The police in Phuket hold our work with them in high regard and we can discuss issues with them when we have a problem.
Training is ongoing and mostly done on the job, however there are times when we meet for more formal meetings and training at the Kathu Police Station.
We already have a great group of people interested in caring for people. You only do what you feel you can do and there is always support close at hand.
Call Coordinator Wal Brown on 084 4471978.