Treading the thin blue line
PHUKET: A small group of hard-working Phuket Provincial Police Volunteers are making a positive contribution to life in the small beach town of Kamala.
Thursday 15 March 2012, 02:17PM
The team of seven volunteers, who work in conjunction with the Royal Thai Police, but separately from the Tourist Police, can often be seen patrolling the main streets of Kamala, plus the beach front, and have become familiar friendly faces in the area for both locals and tourists alike.
Led by retired British police officer Paul Edden, volunteers regularly help settle disputes – such as jet ski hire and traffic accidents – provide tourist information, immigration assistance and general advice.
In cases of death, they also help liaise with embassies in Bangkok, local authorities and next of kin.
“The response we get in Kamala is great, with the bar owners and many other members of the public wanting to talk to us. It gives them a feeling of security,” says Paul.
The ex-cop says the team is particularly grateful for volunteers Radi (from Bulgaria) and Denis (from Russia) who lend a hand assisting and communicating with Eastern European tourists, many of whom get into trouble because of a lack of understanding about the local culture.
“If you live here you get to understand the local culture, but tourists don’t have that knowledge.
“Most of our work is diffusing conflict between people, which can sometimes take two or three hours of negotiation,” Paul says.
Volunteer Philip Thackstone, a retired senior fire officer from the UK, says it is great to be able to help foreigners. Many tour agencies are only interested in booking people on trips, and good advice for tourists, particularly about what to do when things go wrong, is hard to find on the island, he says.
Kamala’s volunteers can be called or approached directly by members of the public, as well as being on call for the Thai police if their assistance is needed. They are vital in providing English, and other language assistance to foreigners in need, and are a valuable tool for the local authorities.
The team are always looking for new volunteers – particularly men and women who are older than 30, with life experience, a calm demeanour, and preferably the ability to speak multiple languages.
For more information on volunteering, contact Paul Edden on 083-982-9105 or email email@example.com