Reform of police ‘must take inputs from public’

national July 09, 2017 01:00


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A CIVIC GROUP has called for opinions of the public and junior police officers to be taken into consideration in the ongoing reform of the police force.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Network of People for Police Reform asked Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the head of the government-appointed police reform committee, retired General Boonsang Niampradit, to make sure that inputs from the public and junior officers were not ignored.

The group suggested that of the nine months it has to complete its task, the panel should focus the first four months on gathering information from research papers on police reform, and listening to opinions from public members, junior police officers and investigators who would be affected by the reform.

The next three months should be spent on drafting the law for police reform, and the last two months on public hearings for additional revisions to the draft law, the group said.

The new Constitution requires that a committee is set up to reform the police force and that its task must be completed within a year after the new charter is promulgated. 

The new charter has been in effect since April 6 and the Cabinet set up the new committee just last week.

The clause on police reform states that if the committee fails to complete its task within the given time, all appointments and transfers of police personnel must be based on seniority only.

Manit Suksomjit, a senior journalist who is one of the 36 members of the police reform panel, said yesterday that the committee would spend the first two months gathering opinions from public members and analysing the research papers on the matter. 

It would spend the next three months drafting a new law and amending the relevant regulations to allow police reform.

The last four months would be spent on public hearings before the new legislation would be promulgated, according to Manit.

He said the committee might also need assistance from the junta in issuing some orders under Article 44 of the interim charter to help speed up its work.

The panel is to convene its first meeting on Wednesday at the Armed Forces Supreme Command. 

It will meet twice weekly at different locations to be determined later, according to Manit.

Meanwhile, Seree Suwanpanont, a member of the National Reform Steering Assembly, said yesterday that the reform measures should focus on how to ensure “real professionalism” within the police force.

He said that judging from the apparent determination of the reform members, he was optimistic that the latest effort to reform the police would succeed.

Democrat Party politician Wirat Kalayasiri, who is a legal expert, said public members have long called for reform of the police force. He also voiced support for the attempt to get rid of the practice of putting coveted police positions up for sale.

Wirat said that if promotions and appointments of police personnel were based on seniority, the practice of favouritism would be greatly reduced.