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Phuket police facing manpower crisis

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket police facing manpower crisis | Thaiger

PHUKET: Some 10% of all police officers in Phuket have applied for transfers out of the province, with many citing overwork as their reason, adding to the problem of Phuket’s already understaffed police force.

Word of the widespread dissatisfaction in the ranks came from Lt Gen Thanee Tavitcha, Commander of Royal Thai Police Region 8.

Some 10% of Phuket’s current police force have requested transfers out of the province for easier postings elsewhere, Gen Thanee said.

In a telephone interview yesterday, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Decha Budnampeth confirmed that some 100 officers had requested transfers.

Many officers wanted easier assignments elsewhere, while others wanted to return to work in their home provinces, Gen Decha said.

“There is so much going on all the time because Phuket is so popular with tourists. This makes it very hard to work here, so I understand their reasons for wanting to leave,” he said.

However, he added that the Royal Thai Police is unable to grant all the transfers at the same time because Phuket is already suffering a police manpower shortage.

Although the province needs about 500 more police staff to deal with the anticipated influx of tourists during the upcoming high season, several requests to Royal Thai Police headquarters to fill these positions have been denied, Gen Decha said.

Part of the reason that his requests for an additional 500 staff has been continually refused by police headquarters in Bangkok stems from dwindling numbers of new recruits nationwide. An insufficient number of new recruits pass the police civil service exam each year end and enter the force, Gen Decha explained.

Currently there are about 1,050 police in Phuket, far fewer than the 1,600 officers needed, he said.

Gen Decha has applied to establish a new police station in Karon, which is geographically far from Chalong Police Station, which is currently responsible for the Kata-Karon area. This request, along with an application to make Tah Chat Chai Station independent of the Thalang Police, also has yet to be granted.

“The Royal Thai Police has yet to approve the transfer requests for the 100 who have applied, but I think they may begin to do so gradually, on a case-by-case basis. This will affect our operational capacity in the upcoming high season because we certainly won’t have enough officers,” he said.

The shortage of law enforcement officers is thought to be due in part to Phuket’s registered population, just over 300,000, being roughly only half the number of Thais actually living in the province, according to figures provided by Phuket Governor Niran Kalayanamit.

The island’s high-season population likely exceeds 1 million, when occupancy at the island’s 580 registered accommodation establishments is high. Scores of expatriate residents and foreign laborers – legally registered and otherwise – also call Phuket home.

Although Phuket does have special tourist and immigration police units, the number of regular police officers stationed largely reflects the registered population – not the reported one.

 

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