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[ 2015-03-10 ]

Phuket Police Volunteers Stop Work over Patong Snub, Scams and Cams: Expats Being Ignored

PHUKET: Region 8 expat police volunteers - the frontline protectors of tourists in Patong - have stopped work in protest at the contemptuous attitude of Phuket police.

The 35 men and women who usually patrol Soi Bangla and beach road in daylight and after dark opted to go on strike from Thursday when the Patong police commander snubbed them by turning up 90 minutes late for a meeting. 

It has been four months since senior police last met with the volunteers, Phuketwan has learned.

''The expat volunteers are fed up at the way in which corruption and inefficiencies are tolerated by the police in Patong,'' a source told Phuketwan last night.

''Tourists usually rely on the volunteers for protection. Regular police are only seen in tourist areas after dark if they are called in.''

The latest indication of lack of respect by Patong police comes as Phuket's Governor Nisit Jansomwong also continues to ignore the holiday island's honorary consuls.

The envoys have been requesting the resumption of regular meetings since he arrived in October last year. 

''Standards for tourists have been going downhill rapidly lately,'' said one consul, who preferred to remain anonymous. 

The envoy told Phuketwan: ''The views of the most important people on the island - the tourists who bring the money that provides all the revenue and even the extra cash for corrupt payments - are no longer being considered. 

''The good relationship and understanding that developed over the years through regular meetings is being blown away. 

''What the governor hears these days is a one-sided account from the people who want the tourists' money.''

Listening to the views of tourists and expats now appears to be a low priority. 

The strike by the highly-regarded police volunteers seems set to continue until someone in a senior position listens to what they have to say. 

Once news of their stop-work reaches international media, Phuket's reputation as a vastly improved safe destination for visitors is likely to be damaged. 

Among the issues that the volunteers say the police won't talk about are the jet-ski scams, which the volunteers say continue to occur - especially now that large sections of Patong beach have been given over exclusively to jet-skis and parasail speedboats. 

They also say other scams have been reported involving people who offer legal representation at Kathu Police Station while tourist suspects are being interviewed. 

''Security cameras in Soi Bangla are turned the wrong way in some places to hide what's going on,'' Phuketwan was told. 

''There is also the need for cameras on the beaches to catch the jet-ski scammers and one officer who is part of the scam.''

The clearance of illegal commercial activities by the Army and the Navy from Phuket's beaches last year is seen by honorary consuls as a wonderful step forward for the holiday island. 

But many of them see the confusion caused by the vendors since, together with the banning of beach chairs and BYO umbrellas, as a sign that Phuket's appeal is already being undermined all over again. 

Phuketwan was unable yesterday to contact senior police in Patong for a comment.