Reform of thai force is focus of seminar
UNLIKE THEIR Thai counterparts, Japanese police have a good image. Japanese people find their country’s police force to be reliable and believe that they can count on the police if any problem arises, participants at a recent seminar in Bangkok were told.
“Japan ranks among the countries in the world where police enjoy public acceptance,” Sanya Dharmasakti Institute for Democracy’s director Asst Professor Dr Wasan Luangprapat said at the seminar.
His institute, which is under Thammasat University, organised the seminar to explore the Japanese model in light of moves to reform the Thai police force.
Wasan said that Japan reformed its force in 1952, and it now has two levels of police. One is the National Police Agency, which oversees policies, systems, regulations, statistics, fingerprint collection, budgeting, and coordination between police units.
The other is prefecture police, whose main duties are to investigate crimes, uphold public order, manage traffic flow, and issue licences to entertainment venues. The prefecture police are under the supervision of prefecture public safety commissions.
Keisuke Hosaka, first secretary and police senior liaison officer of the Embassy of Japan in Thailand, told the seminar that, with this structure, Japan’s central police agency was clearly separate from prefecture police.
“The National Police Agency will not be able to directly give orders to prefecture police. So, there is no interference,” he said. Hosaka said prefecture police, as a result, were neutral and free from any political interference.
He said policemen and women in prefecture police forces are rarely transferred and usually work in the same prefecture until they retire.
“The strengths of Japanese police lie with their cooperation with communities and volunteers. There are police booths in every zone. If any crime arises, police act fast in both small and big cases,” Hosaka said.
He added that Japanese police also investigated crimes very thoroughly before making arrests.
“Japanese police will take it as a failure if the cases they pursue are rejected by public prosecutors,” he said.
Hosaka said that Japanese police officers’ average salaries were about 10 per cent higher than government officials at the same level.
“Such pay reduces the risk of corruption,” he noted.
Pol General Vasit Dejkunjorn, a former director general of the Royal Thai Police, said the Thai police force was still centralised in nature, with the national police chief having the power to handle anything from budgets to transfers.
“It is necessary that police reforms are urgently done in Thailand,” he said.
Vasit said he hoped that Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha would invoke his special powers as the National Council for Peace and Order chief under Article 44 of the Interim Constitution to expedite police reform.
“I am worried that the new government may not agree to follow through with police reform if it is not finished during the tenure of this government,” he said.
Pol Lt-Colonel Krisanaphong Poothakool, who heads Rangsit University’s criminology and justice administration, said the upcoming reform should ensure the police force is shielded from political interference.
“The National Police Office, moreover, should be equipped with modern equipment and a budget to improve police systems,” he said.