Royal Thai Police
Coat of Arms (cap badge)
|Annual budget||62,510,611,700 baht (2008)|
Primary responsibility for the maintenance of public order through enforcement of the kingdom's laws was exercised by the Thailand National Police Department (TNPD), a subdivision of the Ministry of Interior. Charged with performing police functions throughout the entire country, the TNPD was a unitary agency whose power and influence in Thai national life had at times rivalled that of the army.
The formal functions of the TNPD included more than the enforcement of laws and apprehension of offenders. The department also played an important role in the government's efforts to suppress the remnants of the insurgency. In the event of an invasion by external forces, much of the police force would come under the control of the Ministry of Defense to serve with, but not be incorporated into, the military forces.
Originally modelled on the pre-World War II national police force of Japan, the TNPD was reorganized several times to meet changing public order and internal security needs. American advice, training, and equipment, which were provided from 1951 through the early 1970s, did much to introduce new law enforcement concepts and practices and to aid in the modernization of the TNPD. During this era the strength and effectiveness of the police grew steadily.
All components of the police system were administered by the TNPD headquarters in Bangkok, which also provided technical support for law enforcement activities throughout the kingdom. The major operational units of the force were the Provincial Police, the Border Patrol Police (BPP), the Metropolitan Police, and smaller specialized units supervised by the Central Investigation Bureau.
In mid-1987 the total strength of the TNPD, including administrative and support personnel, was estimated at roughly 110,000. Of this number, over one-half were assigned to the Provincial Police and some 40,000 to the BPP. More than 10,000 served in the Metropolitan Police. Quasi-military in character, the TNPD was headed by a director general, who held the rank of police general. He was assisted by three deputy directors general and five assistant directors general, all of whom held the rank of police lieutenant general. Throughout the TNPD system, all ranks except the lowest (constable) corresponded to those of the army. The proliferation of high ranks in the TNPD organizational structure, as in the military, indicated the political impact of the police on national life.
In 1998, TNPD was transferred from the Ministry of Interior of Thailand to be directly under the Office of the Prime Minister. It acquired a new name, in English, the "Royal Thai Police". The title of its commmander was changed from "Director-General of the TNPD" to "Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police".
- Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police
- Border Patrol Police Division 40,000 paramilitary force
- Central Investigation Bureau - national coordinating headquarters which assist provincial and metropolitan components in preventing and suppressing criminal activity and in minimizing threats to national security. Having jurisdiction over the entire country, the CIB was organized to assist both provincial and metropolitan components of the Royal Thai Police in preventing and suppressing criminal activity and in minimizing threats to national security.
- Specialized units of the bureau, including the railroad, marine, highway, and forestry police, employed up-to-date technical equipment, law enforcement techniques, and training.
- Five other divisions and offices employed modern procedures to assist in investigating and preventing crime.
- The Crime Suppression Division, one of the bureau's largest components, is responsible for conducting most of the technical investigations of criminal offenses throughout the kingdom. Its emergency unit copes with riots and other public disorders, sabotage, counterfeiting, fraud, illegal gambling operations, narcotics trafficking, and the activities of secret societies, and organized criminal associations.
- Special Branch — sometimes referred to by critics as the "political police", is responsible for controlling subversive activities and serves as the Thai Police's major intelligence organization, as well as the unit responsible for VIP protection.
- The Criminal Records Office collects and maintains records required in the conduct of police work, including dossiers and fingerprints of known criminals and persons suspected of wrongdoing .
- The Scientific Crime Detection Laboratory, where technicians perform the requisite chemical and physical analyses.
- Licenses Division: registered and licensed firearms, vehicles, gambling establishments, and various other items and enterprises as required by law.
- Office of Immigration Bureau (plans are to separate from the Royal Thai Police to become an independent authority)
- Narcotics Suppression Bureau
- Office Of Logistics
- Aviation Division - operates the force's extensive fleet of helicopters and light aircraft.
- Office of Royal Court Security Police
- Crown Prince's Royal Protective Unit
- Crown Prince Royal Protective Unit "Dechochai Knight 3"
- Provincial Police Division
The Provincial Police formed the largest of the Royal Thai Police operational components in both manpower and geographic responsibility. It was headed by a commander who reported to the police Commissioner-General, and administered through four police regions—geographic areas of responsibility similar to those of the army regional commands. This force provides police services to every town and village throughout the kingdom except metropolitan Bangkok and border areas. The Provincial Police thus handled law enforcement activities and in many cases was the principal representative of the central government's authority in much of the country.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, as the police assumed an increasing role in counterinsurgency operations, a lack of coordination among security forces operating in the rural areas became apparent. Observers noted that the overall police effort suffered because of conflicting organizational patterns and the highly centralized control system that required decisions on most matters to emanate from the various police bureaus of the (then) TNPD headquarters in Bangkok.
A reorganization of the TNPD in 1978 and 1979 gave more command authority to the four police lieutenant generals who served as regional commissioners of the Provincial Police. Thereafter, the senior officers of each region not only controlled all provincial police assigned to their respective geographic areas but also directed the railroad, highway, marine, and forestry police units operating there, without going through the chain of command to the Central Investigation Bureau in Bangkok. Although this change increased the workload of the four regional headquarters, it resulted in greater efficiency and improved law enforcement.
The Provincial Police Division is divided into 10 regions covering the 76 Provinces of Thailand except metropolitan Bangkok and the border areas:
- Region 1 - Ayuthaya
- Region 2 - Chonburi
- Region 3 - Nakhon Ratchasima
- Region 4 - Khon Kaen
- Region 5 - Chiang Mai
- Region 6 - Phitsanulok
- Region 7 - Nakhon Pathom
- Region 8 - Surat Thani
- Region 9 - Songkhla
- Southern Border Provinces Region - Yala
- Chaiya Training
- Special Operations Units
- 191 Special Branch Police
- Arintharat 26 Special Operations Unit
- The Police Education Bureau of the Royal Thai Police was responsible for training police personnel in the latest methods of law enforcement and the use of modern weapons. It operated the Police Officers Academy at Sam Phran, the detective training school at Bang Kaen, the Metropolitan Police Training School at Bang Kaen, and the Provincial Police training centers at Nakhon Pathom, Lampang, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Yala. The bureau also supervises a number of sites established and staffed by the BPP to train its field platoons in counterinsurgency operations. These sites included a large national facility at Hua Hin and smaller facilities in Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani, Chiang Mai, and Songkhla.
- Tourist Police - uniformed personnel who lack police powers and are largely responsible for writing out reports for insurance companies for victims of theft. In more serious cases, they will translate reports to be passed on the normal police in Bangkok. Recently recruiting foreign nationals living in Thailand.
- Immigration Police Division
- Marine Police Division
- Metropolitan Police Division, Bangkok - Responsible for providing all law enforcement services for the capital city of Bangkok and its suburbs, the Metropolitan Police was probably the most visible and publicly recognizable of all Thai police components. This largely uniformed urban force operated under the command of a commissioner, who held the rank of police major general and was assisted by six deputy commissioners. Organizationally, the force consisted of three divisions, each responsible for police services in one of the three urban areas: northern Bangkok, southern Bangkok, and Thon Buri. Together they accounted for about forty police precincts, which were patrolled around the clock. In addition to covering the city with foot patrols, the Metropolitan Police maintained motorized units, a canine corps, building guards, traffic-control specialists, and law enforcement personnel trained to deal with juvenile problems. The Traffic Police Division also provides mounted escorts and guards of honor for the king and visiting dignitaries and served as a riot-control force to prevent unlawful demonstrations and to disperse unruly crowds within the capital city.
The Royal Thai Police, especially the provincial forces, extensively uses pickup trucks and SUVs. For traffic regulation and patrolling in cities, sedans and motorcycles are also used. Highway police vehicles generally also have equipment like speed radars, breath analysers, and emergency first aid kits. They also use tuk-tuks, minivans, bicycles, all-terrain vehicles, boats, and helicopters.
Royal Thai Police vehicle colors vary widely according to grade, region, and kind of duty performed. Bangkok metropolitan police vehicles are black and white. Provincial police vehicles are maroon and white while highway police are maroon and yellow.
- 1 Fokker 50
- 1 Casa CN - 235 - 200 M
- 5 Eurocopter EC155B-1 Helicopters
- 1 Eurocopter AS365N3 Dauphin Helicopters
- 9 Bell 412 Helicopters
- 15 Bell 212 Helicopters
- 26 Bell 205 Helicopters
- 16 Bell 206 Helicopters
There are no standard-issue pistols carried by the Royal Thai Police. Policemen must buy their own pistol and he/she must buy what's available in Thailand and what he/she can afford. If the police officer can't afford a pistol, he may purchase one by paying in installments through their police co-operative.
One of the most popular police pistols is the M1911A1 .45 ACP pistol which can be found readily and relatively cheaply in Thailand. The 9mm Glock 19 Parabellum is another popular, albeit more expensive, choice.
In mid-2015, Pol Gen Somyot Phumphanmuang, Royal Thai Police Commissioner, initiated a program to allow officers to purchase Swiss-made, 9mm SIG Sauer P320 pistols for 18,000 baht each. The Thai market price for this gun is several times higher. The affordable price is made possible by a special police exemption from import quotas and import duties.
Though the Thai police does not issue pistols, long-guns are made available by the government. Common are the Heckler & Koch MP5 and FN P90 sub-machine guns, Remington 870 shotguns, the M4 carbine, and M16 rifles.
Royal Thai Police uniforms vary widely according to grade, region, and kind of duty performed. Among the police, uniforms tend to resemble army dress rather than conventional police uniforms.
On the occasion of the festivities surrounding its 12th anniversary, the Office of the Ombudsman, Thailand reported on its activities since its inception. Chief Ombudsman Panit Nitithanprapas noted that her office had handled nearly 25,000 cases during the period and observed that the Royal Thai Police had been found to be "the most corrupt agency in Thailand". Curiously, Ms Panit's photo does not appear among those of other former ombudsmen on the organisation's website, nor is there any other mention of her.
In the words of Jomdet Trimek, a former police officer, now an academician, "In-depth studies of the causes of...corruption tend to be avoided."Jomdet attributes police corruption to two factors: a centralized police bureaucracy which gives too much power to a few; and very low police salaries. He divides police corruption into three main forms: embezzlement of government funds, coercing bribes from the public, and collection of protection money from illegal business operators and gives examples of each. At the level of constable, this petty thievery is driven by low wages: entry level salaries for police with no university education was 6,800 baht (2012). In June 2015, the Bangkok Post reported that, "Thai police officers are paid around 14,760 baht per month (6,800–8,340 baht for entry level) and have to buy their own guns and even office supplies." He posits that one reason salaries are so low is that the sheer number of officers is staggering, roughly 250,000. This means that an increase of 5,000 baht in every cop's monthly salary would cost the government a politically untenable 15 billion baht annually.:51
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha appointed no-nonsense Police-General Somyot Poompanmoung head of the RTP following the coup of May 2014. Somyot, whose declared assets exceed US$11.5 million, has vowed to transfer, arrest, or prosecute all corrupt officers. But, according to Chuwit Kamolvisit, a former massage parlour magnate turned legislator, "police reform" is a never-ending mantra which never produces results. The "cash-for-jobs" culture within the police is too deep to uproot, he says, alleging that low-ranking officers earning just US$460 a month tap the public for bribes, or solicit protection money from dodgy businesses to top up their salaries and buy promotions. "Rank and status is everything in Thailand... when you are a small policeman to go up [sic], you need to have the right boss, and preferably one at a 'golden police station'– near a casino or entertainment venue", he explained.
In a 2008 article, The Economist summed up their assessment succinctly: "In Thailand's most sensational crimes, the prime suspects are often the police."
In August 2015, a post was made on the Sakon Nakhon Police Facebook page, allegedly from a junior officer. Among other observations the post asked, "...Are our meagre salaries enough to support our families? The answer is no. We have to borrow money and get trapped in debt. "So what about the phuyai [bigwigs]? Are they in debt too? Definitely not. They are rich. Why? Because at the end of every month, money from gambling dens, entertainment venues, the sex trade, human trafficking, drugs and whatnot are routinely sent to them." The post was immediately deleted. Then the Facebook page was deleted altogether. The supervisor of the junior policeman in charge of the page said it was all a technical mistake. Someone had hacked into the page to write the message to taint the image of the police force.
Reports of Thai police in action
- More than 50 vendors in Ko Samui protested at their local police station on 2 April 2015 to protest rampant bribery among island police officers. The rally was sparked by the arrest of a 42-year-old woman who sold counterfeit purses near Chaweng Beach. According to her, police arrested her employee several hours after they demanded 50,000 baht to overlook the store's violation of trademark laws. The owner, Patcharee Chimthaprasert, 49, said she initially agreed to pay the bribe, but that officers later raised the price 190,000 baht, which she was unable to afford. Four officers returned several hours later and arrested her employee, Nampueng Moongraiklang, and confiscated 28 bags as evidence, she said. After news of the arrest spread, around 50 vendors from 20 shops near Chaweng beach closed down their stores and staged a rally in front Bo Phut Police Station. The group filed a complaint that the four police officers extorted bribes from Nampueng and other vendors in the area.
- In 2009, the Thai Police and justice system on the holiday island of Phuket were accused of corruption and over-reaction by tourists visiting the island. In one case an Australian woman was arrested and accused of stealing a bar mat. She spent four nights in jail and had her passport confiscated. Then she faced a wait of another 14 weeks on bail until the next phase of her prosecution. This is despite friends of hers confessing to the police that they had placed the bar mat in the woman's bag as a joke. Eventually the case was resolved after the intervention of governor of Phuket, Wichai Praisa-nob, after being contacted by Thailand's Ministry of Tourism and the Foreign Ministry. A deal was done under which she would plead guilty, she would be fined, and governor Wichai Praisa-nob would pay the fine and give an apology. After this her passport was returned and she was allowed to return to Australia.
- In another case an American couple was arrested upon returning to Thailand and accused of being responsible of burning down a house in which they resided on a previous stay at Phuket. The fire had previously been investigated and found to have been caused by an electrical fault. To recover their passports and being allowed to depart Thailand they had to compensate the house owner and make under the table payments to the judges, the public prosecutor, and everyone down to the bailiffs in the court. This cost them around 45,000 US dollars.
- In 2007 a 15-year-old Danish boy was involved in an insurance fraud when a Chinese couple threw themselves under his Jetboat killing one of them. While the court ruled the incident as an accident, the police detained the boy and held his passport until an amount of 300,000 DKK had been paid so the case could be settled within weeks.
- As a condition of being appointed to the National Legislative Council (NLC), prospective members were required to reveal their assets and liabilities. The disclosures by would-be NLC members of their assets shocked many Thais. "Police Chief Somyos Poompanmuang and his wife's net worth was revealed to about 355.8 million baht (roughly $11 million) [sic], raising questions about how a lifelong career in the public service could have made him a millionaire many times over."
- It has been alleged that Thai police profit greatly from "enforcing" music copyright infringement laws. Bars and restaurants in Thailand that play recorded music are required to obtain a licence from a local copyright agency. This is supposed to protect the interests of international artists and record companies. Thailand has more music licensing companies than any other country in the world, making it confusing for business operators to figure out who to go to if they want to obtain a licence. In cases where fees have not been paid, licensing companies work with the police to collect royalties and sometimes a bit more.
- The discovery in early-May 2015 of two dozen bodies from shallow graves in the mountains of southern Thailand, a discovery that has exposed a network of jungle camps run by traffickers who allegedly held migrants captive while they extorted ransoms from their families, has seemingly galvanized Thailand into action. A total of 33 bodies, believed to be migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, have now been exhumed from various jungle camps. The discoveries have embarrassed Thailand, which is already under pressure from the United States and the European Union to crack down on human trafficking both on land and in its fishing fleets. Thai Police chief Gen. Somyot Poompanmoung has moved quickly, arresting the mayor of the district town and relieving 50 police officers of their duties. "If you are...neglecting, or involved with, or supporting or benefiting from human-trafficking networks — your heads will roll," Somyot said.
- Bangkok police chief, Police Lt Gen Sriwarah Rangsipramkul, off-duty, in civilian clothes, and driving a private vehicle, was stopped by police at a drunk driving checkpoint in Bangkok in July 2015. He was asked to take a breathalyzer test. "I rolled down my window and told them I hadn't drunk any alcohol, but the [police] volunteers said, 'you have to take the breathalyzer test,'" Sriwarah recounted. "I told them no five times, but the volunteers wouldn't give in." This enraged the police chief who observed that, "If those volunteers were quality people, and had some wits, they would have realized that I didn't smell of any alcohol. Eventually, I had to tell them who I was and get out of my car and criticize them." Sriwarah said he later encountered a second checkpoint in front of the Criminal Court where a second group of police volunteers again insisted he take a breathalyzer test. He said the incident prompted him to order police officers "to only select quality volunteers for traffic works, so that the people won't be affected." In Thailand, refusing to take breathalyzer test carries a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment. The day following the incidents, Pol Maj Gen Thanapon Techatanon, a senior officer at Traffic Police Division, said he has ordered all traffic officers to familiarize themselves with their superiors to avoid similar incidents in the future. "I have instructed all volunteers and police officers to memorize faces, names, and license plates of their commanders well, so that this mistake will not happen again," Thanapon said.
- In response to the Erawan Shrine bombing on 17 August 2015 which killed 20 and wounded 125 persons, the Thai police on 21 August, initiated "Operation Lock Down the City, Raid the Bandits' Nests," with the objective of "X-raying" potential residences that might hold clues leading to the bomber and his network. On Sunday 23 August, the police held a parade and formal ceremony inaugurating the operation that had begun on 21 August and was due to end the next day. A parade of soldiers and police, complete with mounted cavalry and motorized convoys, marched out of Royal Plaza in the Dusit district. Police reports of the operation claimed a total of 139 people were arrested, three detained, and 4,615 properties searched by the time the operation ended Monday. The majority of suspects were charged with unrelated drug offenses, with a small number taken into custody on weapons charges. Police reports did not indicate how many of those arrested were foreigners. Another three people were arrested for using social media to "spread panic" in connection to the deadly bombing. The operation failed to net any suspects related to the bomb attack.
Policemens' death sentences
Policemen have been executed before 2012. In 2012, three policemen were sentenced to death for murdering a 17-year-old robbery suspect during Thaksin Shinawatra government's war on drugs. They were released on bail on July 31, 2012.
In 2012 Duang Yubamrung — son of Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yubamrung — became a police lieutenant, transferring directly from a position as an army lieutenant. Bangkok Post claims that the "transfer to the police force has attracted criticism in many quarters".
Notable Thai police chiefs
- Phao Sriyanond (also "Pao Sriyanond") was Director General of Thailand's national police from 1951 to 1957.
- Sarit Dhanarajata was Director General of Thailand's national police from 1959 to 1963.
- Praphas Charusathien was Director General of Thailand's national police from 1963 to 1973.
- Pratin Santiprapop was Director General of the Royal Thai Police from 1994 to 1994.
- Poj Boonyajinda was Director General of the Royal Thai Police from 1994 to 1997.
- Pracha Promnog was Director General of the Royal Thai Police from 1997 to 1998 and Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police from 1998 to 2000.
- Pornsak Durongkavibulya was Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police from 2000 to 2001.
- Sant Sarutanond was Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police from 2001 to 2004.
- Kowit Wattana was Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police from 2004 to 2007.
- Seripisut Temiyavet was the acting Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police from February 5, 2007 to September 10, 2007.
- Kowit Wattana was reinstated as Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police from September 10, 2007 to September 30, 2007 (his mandatory retirement).
- Seripisut Temiyavet was Commissioner-General of the Royal Thai Police starting from October 1, 2007 to April 2008. Appointed Police Commissioner of Thailand by a military junta government. As a police officer he gained a reputation for targeting mafia leaders. He was removed from office on April 2008 by the elected government of Samak Sundaravej under charges of corruption. His supporters, however, claim that these charges are put-up jobs to punish him for prosecuting many cases against the militarily deposed former premier Thaksin Shinawatra.
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- Låner 500.000 kr: Nu kan Kristian komme hjem, by Michael Jensen, BT, January 16, 2007
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- Memories of chequered past
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-  PM to look into allegations of corruption of Gen Seripisut Archived February 16, 2012 at the Wayback Machine
-  Demolish gambling den, says senior police officer
- Border Patrol Police
- Controversy over Police Conduct in Pai
- March of Public Peace Preservation
- Crime in Thailand
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Police of Thailand.|
- Official Royal Thai Police website (Thai)
- English Information on the Royal Thai Police
- Catalogue of Torture and Corruption by The Royal Thai Police