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Practical Guide > Important Info

Royal Thai Police

The prime responsibility of public order throughout Thailand is the Royal Thai Police, or as they are formally call, the National Police Department (TNPD).

A subdivision of the TNPD is the Tourist Police - These are uniformed personnel (sometimes volunteers) who work as intermediates between the Police and Tourists. They lack police powers and are largely responsible for writing out reports for insurance companies for victims of theft. In more serious cases, they will translate reports to be passed on the normal police. Recently the tourist police have started recruiting expats living in Thailand.

Tourist Police in the Sathorn-Silom and central Sukhumvit areas of Bangkok, tel. 1155 (free call from any phone) or 678-6800
regular police anyway in Thailand, emergency number 191 or 123 (free call from any phone)

Private Security. Most shopping mails and towns will have private security and can be the quickest way of getting hold of of the police in an emergency.

  • The Thai police are usually quite trustworthy and reasonable, and often have adequate to good English skills, especially in Bangkok. However, there are some guidelines you should follow as regards the police:
  • In Tourist areas you are best going to the Tourist Police first as most police offiers outside of Bangkok will not speak good English.
  • The best advice in Thailand, is to treat the Thai people with respect, dress respectfully, and avoid causing loss of face to any Thais and you will find that you will have few problems in Thailand. The more respectful you are to a Thai person, the better treated you will beÖ And that especially applies to the Police. If you disrespect them you will find yourself very quickly in a lot of trouble.
  • If you have an accident, do not flee the scene and try and get the tourist police involved whether the accident was your fault or not. If the accident was your fault if itís not clear who's guilty, then you'll have to pay your fair share and should do so without resentment. But if you run from the scene, do not be surprised if you end up in jail. Best thing to do is try and come to agreement with the other parties there and then.
  • If you get in to an argument or possible fight, try and remain cool and composed, especially with the police. In Thai society, keeping your cool is very important. If you lose your temper then this could get you in to more trouble than the original problem. Thai police will use force if they feel that you are a danger to yourself or others.
  • It is very important that you always minimise the loss of face to anyone, especially a Thai person. Any disagreements should be dealt with as peacefully and reasonably as possible, even if you are in the right.
  • Some areas of Thailand do suffer from corrupt Police. The police in Bangkok tend to be trustful and most can speak English to some degree. Phuket has had a number of high profiled cases of police corruption in the last decade. You are always best to get the tourist police involved at the earliest opportunity. In the less tourist areas the police can be easier to deal with once you get past the language barrier. In some rural areas the local police station will often have a contact (sometimes an ex-pat) who can speak English to a reasonable level.
  • Thai police generally will not get involved in domestic disputes unless there is a threat of injury by one party or the other. The police are very hands off in interpersonal matters. If there are legal agreements as part of the conflict, then you should go to the police station or, better yet, your lawyer. If you call the police out, for example to extract your property from the apartment of an ex-lover, or in regard to a theft with realistic hopes of recovery, then be prepared to tip the police for success in getting any of your property back.
  • If staying in Thailand for a longer period of time, it is a good idea to get to know a few ex-pats in the area.

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