Police Chief reveals plans to improve security
PHUKET: Actions to improve security in Phuket have been proposed by Provincial Police Commander Pol Maj Gen Chonasit Watanawarangkun, following a meeting yesterday (June 2) with commanders of police stations on the island.
Tuesday 3 July 2012, 05:37PM
His proposal, made to the Governor’s office for transmission to the central government, includes an ingenious scheme to link all existing CCTV cameras on the island, via the internet, to a central monitoring station.
The cost of doing this would be minimal, compared with installing more cameras, or contracting a private company to set up and run a new network, as was earlier proposed.
“A project has been developed and presented for consideration to the Provincial Office because most information about crime now comes from cameras.
“The project name is ‘Amazing Eyes Digital Phuket Province’, which will serve the people in protecting themselves.
“It will also be possible to make reports online of looming danger before it happens. CCTV systems in public places will be integrated and local people will be involved in the project as monitors, along with police.”
He said the project also includes plans for “an integrated alarm system”.
“The system will be tied together via the internet and have centralised monitoring,” he explained. “It will also be linked to local cable TV.”
He said no additional budget for implementation had been requested because it relies on “linking existing systems – for example those belonging to municipal and tambon governments, private entities and traffic monitoring – and then assigning police and volunteers to monitor them.
“This is yet another way that people can serve as the ears and eyes of the police,” he said, “and it is a way of uniting the people and the police in watching out [for crime].”
In addition, the general has plans for more checkpoints, more police stations and an increase in the number of officers.
The proposals follow the widely-publicised stabbing of Australian travel agent Michelle Smith last month and the recent visit to the island by Australian Ambassador James Wise, who urged authorities do more to protect tourists by increasing the number of checkpoints and CCTV cameras, and cracking down hard on unauthorised carrying of weapons.
Gen Chonasit said the aim is to enhance security, and thereby the confidence of tourists in their safety.
“The frequency with which crime occurs in each locale was analysed during the meeting, as well as the places where it happens and the times. I ordered an increase in the number of checkpoints in each locale, as well as increase in the number of patrolmen.
“Any station with too few officers will have Provincial Police Investigations officers assigned to it. We also seek co-operation from local people and volunteers in patrolling.”
He said the exact number of cameras that will be used depends on information provided by local police. “The fact is, thousands of cameras are in place, but local governments don’t use many of them. So we will advise them on what to do.
“Plans are still in the development stage. Officers from the secretariat of the Prime Minister’s Office will go to each locale and evaluate information provided, thereafter dividing the area into zones.”
He said that whatever budget is spent on the new system “will be small [price to pay for] the safety of Phuket”.
Addressing police manpower levels, Gen Chonasit said that Phuket has 1,800 officers, but half of these are engaged in administration, “leaving the rest for crime suppression and traffic control”.
He explained that the police have run into the same trap as many government organisations on the island: the difference between registered population – on which budgets rest – and the actual population, which is at least twice that number.
“The National Police Office, in assigning the complement of officers to any locale, makes computations based on registered population and the area’s size,” Gen Chonasit explained.
“Insufficiencies [in terms of manpower and equipment] have been brought to the attention of the National Police Office. For now we have requested that Phuket receive its full complement of officers, as budgeted for the province. For the future, I have already requested the number be increased.”
Gen Chonasit added that two more police stations are already planned – one for Tambon Vichit and one for Karon.
Officers for those stations, he said, would not be taken from existing stations, but be in addition to those already in place.
He said the Police Board is still considering the plans, but that the locations of each, and their manpower, have been decided upon.