Police, Traffic Police, Fines & What to Do in Case of Theft
The police force in Thailand – whether traffic police or ordinary police – are instantly recognizable by their police uniforms, shiny black boots, helmets and reflective jackets. They are also instantly recognizable in that most of the police do not have proper police vehicles. Instead, they ride around on private motorcycles, which they have purchased themselves. This makes for an unusual, multicolored display of police vehicles unlike that of most developed countries. Also, it is not unusual to see the police standing in groups enjoying the scenery while smoking cigarettes – something you also will probably not see in developed countries!
The police force in Thailand is usually quite helpful if you need assistance. If you are behaving yourself, it is unlikely you will have any trouble with the police. If you need some assistance and are lost, they will be happy to show you the way to your destination. If you decide to break the law, you will have to pay the penalty. However, it should be noted that corruption is widespread as in most developing countries’ police forces. Therefore, be prepared to have to occasionally put ‘tea’ money into the pockets of some of the police officials.
Corruption in the Thai police force was actually assessed by Transparency International’s Corruption Barometer in 2007. The study uncovered that “a survey assessing the public’s perceptions and experience of corruption in 60 countries, states that, for Thailand, the police received a rating of four out of five, where one represents “not at all corrupt” and five represents “extremely corrupt”” (6 Dec. 2007, 22). So, now you know what to expect.
On the other hand, this low-level corruption can actually be a good thing as opposed to a bad thing. Let us consider the following examples: if you were to get caught riding your motorbike with no helmet in your home country or were caught driving your car with no seatbelt, you would most likely be looking at having to pay a fine and having to have your driving license endorsed with penalty points. This would then later affect the cost of your car insurance too. Traffic police are usually the worst culprits for this type of corruption.
However, if you get caught in Thailand by the traffic police, it is more likely that you will be able to pay a small ‘under the table’ fine at the place of the offence. Usually, a police officer will hand over a notebook with the page open. You will then be expected to slip some money between the pages and then close the notebook and hand it back to the officer. This method is usually the preferred method and saves you having to go to the police station. Keep a smile on your face while negotiating the price of the fine and you may even get a discount!
The Thai police are expected to maintain public order and arrest criminals while conducting themselves with integrity. The Thai police forces original methods of policing were based on pre-war Japan. But, in recent times they have been re-trained using American training and philosophy. It should be noted that the majority of police officers are pleased to help out in all situations and are actually very friendly.
In case of road accidents involving vehicles, you should leave your vehicle where the accident took place wherever possible. Then, call your insurance company who will then send out a representative to take down all the details of the accident. Vehicle insurance companies in Thailand are very quick to respond and provide first class service and assistance. Also, take down the contact details of anybody involved such as their vehicle registration number, ID card if Thai, full name, driver’s license, vehicle registration book, insurance details address and telephone number.
If you are arrested in Thailand, the first thing to do is you should try to inform the consular staff at your Embassy as soon as possible. They will then try to inform your family or friends as soon as possible. They will also visit you and provide you with as much information as possible about your rights and the Thai legal system in Thailand. The telephone number to call the police in Hua Hin that is recommended for foreigners is: 1155. It is 191 for normal police lines.
Be warned: conditions in Thai prisons are dreadful. Drugs are not tolerated. The penalties for dealing drugs are extremely severe. Behave yourself when you are a guest in someone else’s country.
The fire department rescue services in all countries are there specifically to help with putting out fires, assisting with the police and paramedics in all types of accidents and disasters and with the prevention of fires. In Thailand, of course this is no exception.
Telephone number: 199.
Address: top of Damnernkasem Road