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New rules at Bangkok police checkpoints after bribe complaints

Caitlin Ashworth

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Police at Bangkok’s Thong Lor station have set up what they say is a “new style” of checkpoints in response to complaints saying drivers were forced to pay police officers. Along with new rules to prevent corruption and bribery, the officers also need to be “polite.”

The Thong Lor police station has accumulated a reputation over recent decades. It was also the police station in the middle of the early investigation into the ‘Boss’ Yoovidhya hit-and-run case. The policeman killed was from the Thong Lor station.

Officers at the checkpoints will need to show their badges and tell the driver what the their name is as well as their commander’s name. Under the new regulations, they also need to be polite. The National Police Chief Suwat Jangyosuk says the new measures are “transparent” and boost the standards at checkpoints. Thong Lor is the first police station to implement the new rules.

The new measures and push for transparency comes after complaints of police taking money from drivers passing through checkpoints. It’s safe to say that police bribes are not uncommon in Thailand. Many travel websites and blogs warn about police corruption in Thailand, some offer tips on how to deal with police.

Just the other day, an officer in Pathum Thani’s Thanyaburi district was caught on camera allegedly taking a bribe from someone driving through the police checkpoint. After the video of the truck driver handing the officer 100 baht was shared on Facebook, the provincial police chief Chayut Marayat told the district chiefs to make sure officers “behave appropriately.”

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Pedro

    Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 8:44 pm

    For me, fixed point static checkpoints are so old fashioned and they not actually considered as real policing by many professionals as they are manly concerned with checking documentation and anyone can do it. They are also a wasteful use of resources, as it takes so many officers to effectively run such a checkpoint. I think that the only time a form of static check point should be used is when a known or defined target is believed to be heading their way as part of a pre-planned operational response to a particular kind of incident. Even then, traffic should be allowed to flow as the target is identifiable and therefore can be observed approaching and safely stopped. Otherwise checkpoints are just ‘fishing expeditions’ creating the perfect conditions where a corrupt official can extort money or favours from the public. Surely Traffic Policing is all about ensuring road safety. Identifying instances of dangerous driving, preventing or stopping speeding or any other vehicular offences cannot be detected whilst the vehicles and drivers concerned are stationary at a checkpoint. Criminals will always avoid known checkpoints anyway.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, November 6, 2020 at 10:28 am

      Agreed, Pedro, but to be fair, at least in the province where I live and neighbouring provinces, the police haven’t used “fixed point static checkpoints” for several years and there are no permanent checkpoints, although they do always tend to be in the same places and often in the vicinity of a police station. They’re also nearly always set up in conjunction with speed cameras a couple of kms away, calling speedsters through to the checkpoint.

      That may well not apply elsewhere, though, particularly around Bangkok – I don’t know.

      Criminals can certainly aviod many of the checkpoints, though, not only because of the repeated use of “favourite” locations but because there are a number of easily available apps showing locations of operating checkpoints – probably not as easy to police as Pornhub!

  2. Avatar

    rr

    Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 9:08 pm

    100 baht bribe… they must be quite desperate…

  3. Avatar

    Francis

    Thursday, November 5, 2020 at 10:03 pm

    This is fantastic step forward, never thought I would read this. Great news.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, November 6, 2020 at 11:25 am

      I’m not as confident of it making any difference as you are.

      I’ve always found the traffic police to be “polite” even when asking for a contribution, and previously changing the system so that one or two police cars could no longer set up a snap check point as all check points have to have at least a police Captain present made little difference other than to make the check points larger but fewer.

      I just can’t see that most drivers are going to ask police for their names when stopped, or make a note of them, unless they were going to make a complaint which very few do or will do. Even when given a genuine (recorded) fine and a ticket the offences are often spurious and contrived, as the system is that the policeman giving the ticket gets 95% of the fine, although there’s a delay and a proportion goes to the station hence a frequent preference for “cash payment”.

      The one thing that I’ve found makes a difference is having a dash cam fitted, which is only common sense now anyway given how cheap they are (under 500 baht). We have three: one for the rear, fixed, one fixed for the front, and a third on the passenger’s side that can be swivelled round to point at the driver’s window. Since fitting them we always get either waved through or a very cursory check.

  4. Avatar

    Khun plastic

    Friday, November 6, 2020 at 1:04 am

    Id give it a while to see how quickly and widley the changes are implemented.

    I’d be very pleasantly surprised if this long running annoyance suddenly stopped over night.

    The boys in brown are so used to shaking down poor locals for an orange and rich falangs/ hiso thais for a purple that I feel it is unlikely they will be willing to give up such a nice little tax free earner easily or quickly.

    In these very difficult times for all I could perhaps seeing them giving a bit of discount for a while as a good will gesture.
    long term I feel it will be business as usual.

    Harley Davidsons and mia noi’s don’t come cheap as your average officer is very well aware. T.I.T.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, November 6, 2020 at 11:43 am

      I can’t see it changing for the BIB as long as corruption continues to be endemic elsewhere. It’s one thing to say that they should set a higher standard, but it’s unrealistic when they see it as routine everywhere else from the Electrical Authority to the Army.

      To be effective, the whole system needs a re-think, not just the BIB – they’re just the most identifiable example.

  5. Avatar

    Jack

    Friday, November 6, 2020 at 1:43 am

    Well considering the roads are completely unpoliced, I don’t see the roads any more dangerous here than in states, many things and ways of driving make more sense here because people are quite free to do what they want. Most people actually drive too slow for me. Lol.

    In usa where things are heavily patrolled. Texting and driving is dangerous. Everyone does it.

    As a farang, $3, $6 $9 $12 $15.. sometimes nothing.. doesn’t bother me. Its much more expensive in the states to get 1 ticket, than it is to get 10 here. They’re not hard to avoid either one you know where they are.

  6. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Friday, November 6, 2020 at 9:49 am

    If the police are so keen to make money they should enforce the parking laws.
    Westminster council in London make more money on parking fines than they do from property taxes.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, November 6, 2020 at 12:08 pm

      Fair point. The only time I see it applied and vehicles clamped is in front of the provincial hospital – which is next to a police sub-station.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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