The response by Phuket Provincial Police, saying that the police officers were only doing their duty as traffic police, was posted online late yesterday (Nov 24).
The response came after a post on the “Phuket Sandbox – SHA Plus” Facebook page on Sunday (Nov 21) showed a photo of police officers in front of the “Kitchen” restaurant, located next door to the well known TaiPan nightclub on Rath-U-Thit 200 Pi Rd, at the intersection with Bangla Rd.
The message posted with the photo accused police officers of “destroying tourism” and quoting foreign tourists as being “robbed”, the Phuket Provincial Police noted in their response.
“Phuket Provincial Police asked for information about such cases,” the response noted.
“It is a [police] duty to set up traffic checks according to normal duties. The order [to set up the traffic check] was clearly supported properly with the intention to reduce traffic accidents,” it added.
“Some tourists are not familiar with the roads and do not know the traffic laws, and because of different laws, traditions and cultures, this may cause accidents and harm to the motorists themselves or others and the property of the tourists themselves,” the Phuket Provincial Police said.
“This is in accordance with the regulations and laws that have given them powers [to enforce traffic laws], without discrimination regradless whether [the motorist is a] Thai or foreigner, for the peace of the people as a whole,” the response said.
From October 16 to November 23 this year Phuket has seen 374,117 Thai tourists arrive on the island, of whom 2,507 committed traffic offenses, representing 0.67%, said the post.
The number of foreigners arriving in Phuket amounted to 36,549 people, of whom 129 committed traffic offenses, accounting for 0.43%, it added.
“Statistics of deaths and injuries from traffic accidents in Phuket in 2019 saw 129 deaths, 117 serious injuries and 4,785 minor injuries,” the Provincial Police continued in their response.
“From the statistics of traffic offenses committed by tourists, it can be seen that the arrest rate of offenders is less than 1% of tourists, whether Thai or foreigners,” the response said.
“But when looking at the statistics of injuries and fatalities from traffic cases, it can be seen that the number of deaths and injuries is quite high. Therefore, I [or we] would like all citizens and tourists to be aware of the observance of traffic rules in order to reduce injuries [and harm done to] life and property.”
“Reduce risks, avoid dangers, create discipline, obey traffic rules" the post concluded.
With no single officer named as responsible for the official response to accusations of police “robbing” people, namely foreigners and tourists, the response was signed off with, “Best wishes from Phuket Provincial Police Spokesperson Team”.
Over the past week, The Phuket News has received independent reports of "heightened police activity" that appears to have been targetting foreigners in several areas across the island, including Kamala, Cherng Talay, Chalong and Rawai.