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Koh Tao murders prompt Phuket security boost



PHUKET: Region 8 Police chief Panya Mamen has ordered all police stations under his command, including those in Phuket, to investigate their options for improving tourists’ safety following the brutal slaying of two British tourists on Koh Tao earlier this month.

“I have ordered every police station in Region 8, especially those in tourist destinations, to establish if they can install CCTV by themselves,” Lt Gen Panya told the Phuket Gazette.

In addition to Phuket, Gen Panya is the commanding police officer for Krabi, Phang Nga, Ranong and Surat Thani, where British tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge were murdered on September 15 (story here).

Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwan yesterday instructed the Interior Ministry, the Royal Thai Police and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to install security cameras at tourist destinations around the country.

Deputy PM Prawit also gave two months for more streetlamps to be installed in tourist areas to deter criminals from preying on tourists.

To improve safety on Koh Tao in Surat Thani, Gen Panya revealed to the Gazette that he has requested his superiors in Bangkok provide the funds to upgrade island’s police station.

“The current one is small, staffed by only eight officers,” he said. “Upgrading it will see more officers stationed there, which will allow them to take better care of people on the island.”

A similar move was made in Phuket about a decade ago, when the Royal Thai Police upgraded every station on the island so that the commanding officer was of the position ‘Superintendent’, regardless of the size of the precinct or the number of tourists and residents the station catered to.

The move allowed more funds and more officers to be allocated to each police station.

“The high season is coming. A lot more people will come to Koh Tao,” Gen Panya said. “There are about 5,000 locals living on the island already, plus about 5,000 migrant laborers and people from other provinces.

“In peak season, there are about 10,000 tourists on any given day – that is a large number for just eight officers to look after.”

While waiting for approval to upgrade the station, Gen Panya has ordered the officers already on Koh Tao to boost the number of patrols they conduct.

“A greater police presence in public will improve people’s confidence in their safety,” he said.

— Chutharat Plerin


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