Police are using CCTV cameras in Bangkok's entertainment districts and giving bouncers martial arts training as part of a campaign to ensure safety.
RED LIGHTS, CAMERAS, ACTION: The ‘Safety Zone’ sign hangs over Soi Cowboy.
The police safety zones, which have been operating for several months, are in place in the popular nightspot areas of Soi Cowboy, Patpong, Khao San Road and Nana Plaza.
Phuket police also confirmed to the Bangkok Post Sunday that they have established a safety zone in Patong.
Thong Lor police superintendent Pol Col Chumpol Pumpuang said his station joined the campaign two months ago, and had since hung large banners across Soi Cowboy declaring in English that it is a safety zone.
CCTV cameras have been installed in the awnings and on the roofs of pubs and nightclubs and are not easily detected, Pol Col Chumpol said. The cameras can be monitored from the police radio room of Thong Lor police station and the superintendent can also view a live feed from his phone.
"We installed 10 cameras along the 150m street and I can view the video live from my mobile phone, and there are another two cameras, one at each end of the street," he said.
DON’T FORGET TO SMILE: Thonglor Police Superintendent Pol Col Chumpol Pumpuang shows live CCTV footage from Soi Cowboy on his mobile phone.
Pol Col Chumpol said there were about 30 businesses operating in Soi Cowboy and he had come up with his own initiative called "Tourist Security Volunteers" to improve safety.
"I recruit security guards from each entertainment venue for training," the superintendent said.
"We give them basic knowledge about the law and we give them martial arts training. The volunteers are now equipped to break up fights and help other people.
"Once they pass the training, we give them a jacket and a red cap with 'Tourist Security' written on them. I believe the project can reduce crime."
One Soi Cowboy bar staff member who identified herself as Mod said the Safety Zone project had improved security and cooperation between the bars. "So far, the main difference we are seeing is that there are no beggars coming into the soi and there are no more people coming to sell flowers," she said.
She said people felt safer having Tourist Security staff walking around.
Pol Col Chumpol said police commander Pol Gen Adul Saengsingkaew devised the plan to protect tourists in high-risk areas of Bangkok.
Police working in Khao San Road on the Chanasongkram temple side, meanwhile, have given the dummy cop known as "Ja Cheuy" (stationary sergeant) a makeover, putting an image of Superman on the sign.
Chanasongkram police deputy superintendent Lt Col Aekkarat Paoin, who came up with the idea, said the makeover was designed to get the message across that police were approachable 24 hours a day.
"We want to promote a friendly image, so I came up with the Superman idea," he said.
"We didn't expect it, but our dummy officer has become a new attraction for tourists on Khao San Road. Many tourists stop to take a picture and they get to know about our campaign."
Cindy and Glen, a young couple from Australia backpacking around Asia, said they had heard negative reports about crime in Thailand, but said the campaign made them feel safer.
"We read a lot about Thailand and there are many crimes going on here, especially on the street. Luckily we don't feel threatened here," Cindy said.
"We saw the Superman sign and took a picture with it. We think it's nice that the police have a sense of humour. It makes us feel more comfortable talking to them."
About the author
- Writer: Chaiyot Yongcharoenchai