The Royal Thai Police (RTP) has set up a panel to look into accusations that Phuket police officers failed to report the arrests of more than 1,700 foreigners over the last year to the Immigration Bureau to help prevent them from being deported.
According to figures supplied by the RTP, a total of 2,415 foreigners were arrested in Phuket over the past year. Only 685 were sent to the Immigration Bureau for deportation while 1,730 were not raising suspicions they may have been bribed not to do so.
Phuket police chief Pol Maj Gen Thirapol Thipcharoen said deputy national police chief Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul had ordered an investigation into allegations that some police stations in Phuket had doctored the number of foreigners who had committed offences in Phuket.
Pol Gen Srivara told reporters earlier that 68 police officers were allegedly involved in the misconduct.
Local police are required to send all foreign offenders they arrest to the bureau for deportation, as well as inform foreign embassies, Pol Maj Gen Thirapol said.
However, in some cases, immigration officers see no need to deport foreigners who commit petty offences, Pol Maj Gen Thirapol said.
Meanwhile, Adul Khiewboriboon, chairman of a support group for relatives of victims of the 1992 Black May unrest, claimed Wednesday he had received information about police taking bribes in major tourist provinces, including Phuket.
He called on the RTP to tackle the problem and prevent it from ruining the country's tourism industry.
Two senior Phuket police officials have been transferred as the RTP widens its investigation into allegations that tourist police have been taking monthly bribes from Thai nationals, foreign tourists and migrant workers in excess of 100 million baht.
Both officials were transferred to the headquarters of Provincial Police Region 8 in Surat Thani, according to Pol Gen Wirachai Songmetta, an acting deputy chief of the RTP. The two officers have not been named.
Since the investigation is ongoing, both are considered innocent until proven guilty, Pol Gen Wirachai said in his capacity as spokesman for the RTP.
On Tuesday, Pol Gen Suchat Thirasawas, acting chief of police inspectors, said Thammarat Suwannaphosi, who runs a Facebook page called "Spotlight Phuket", recently petitioned the Prime Minister's Office and the office of police inspectors over the alleged bribe-taking.