Revellers face security blitz

Revellers face security blitz

20,000 police to patrol city during New Year festivities

After a scare with a heavily armed Malaysian backer of Islamic State trying to fly THAI, authorities are even more focused on ensuring a safe New Year. These tourist police staged a show of force at and inside Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)
After a scare with a heavily armed Malaysian backer of Islamic State trying to fly THAI, authorities are even more focused on ensuring a safe New Year. These tourist police staged a show of force at and inside Suvarnabhumi airport on Monday. (Photo by Somchai Poomlard)

Twenty thousand police officers are to be deployed across the capital for the New Year countdown, especially at four major spots where revellers will gather in large numbers.

The four countdown venues are CentralWorld at Ratchaprasong intersection, Khao San Road off Ratchadamnoen Road, Asiatique on Charoenkrung Road and the Crystal Design Centre on Pradit Manutham Road, according to Pol Maj Gen Montri Yimyaem, deputy chief of the Metropolitan Police Bureau.

CentralWorld, where a bomb went off during the 2006 New Year countdown, is expected to be the most crowded venue with at least 125,000 revellers, some 25,000 more than last year.

Pol Maj Gen Montri said the 20,000 security personnel will guard the four countdown venues as well as 144 temples where Buddhist prayers are planned to be held to ring in the New Year.

Despite tight security being put in place, Tourism and Sports Minister Weerasak Kowsurat asked the public Monday to help look out for any suspicious activities, and report them to the authorities. He asked revellers to capture any such footage on their smartphones for potential use as evidence.

Pol Maj Gen Montri said 115 security checkpoints will also be set up across the capital.

Around the country, 50,000 military personnel, police and civilian volunteers will work together to beef up security and conduct joint patrols, according to deputy national police chief Pol Gen Chalermkiat Sriworakhan.

Police will use infrared cameras provided by King Mongkut's Institute of Technology Ladkrabang during their patrols.

Equipped with an eight-hour backup battery, the infrared cameras will allow police to capture images of illegal activities in the dark.

Police stations in Min Buri, Bang Sue, Kannayao and Bang Yai districts will be each given 16 such cameras for use during New Year patrols, said Pol Gen Chalermkiat.

Elsewhere in the country, police have already stepped up security patrols.

In Phuket, police since Friday have seized weapons after a series of raids on 20 locations during which 33 suspects were detained, according to Thiraphon Sapcharoen, chief of Phuket provincial police.

Of the detained suspects, three had arrest warrants out for them already and one was suspected to have entered Thailand illegally.

Phuket police said they will continue conducting their raids until Jan 5.

Police across the country also plan to enforce traffic laws strictly. Police checkpoints will target not only drink drivers but also motorcyclists who fail to wear crash helmets.

Five roads in Bangkok have been declared "safety zones" where a crackdown on motorists will be enforced during the upcoming festivities, said Pol Lt Gen Chanthep Sesawech, chief of the Metropolitan Traffic Police.

These roads are Ratchadaphisek, Rama IX, Pradit Manutham, Prasoet Manukit and Nawamin, he said, adding that stringent checks on drink-driving and possession of illegal items will also be conducted by officers.

In Phetchabun province, Anon Chuealek, chief of Lom Kao district office, warned people planning on visiting Phu Thap Boek, a popular hilltop tourist attraction, to brace for bad traffic on the road leading to the destination.

Each day during the New Year holiday period, at least 15,000 visitors are expected to descend on Phu Thap Boek, which will inevitably result in severe traffic congestion on the small road leading up the mountain, he said. In a bid to provide live traffic updates for motorists, drones will be used to capture images of road congestion, he said.

In Nakhon Ratchasima, more than 500 people began Monday to campaign to raise public awareness about the importance of reducing the volume of rubbish and consumption of energy, both of which tend to surge during the New Year celebrations.

The Department of Corrections under the Ministry of Justice said it will introduce the use of electronic monitoring devices with people who have been released on probation for drink driving.

The department plans to buy 4,000 electronic monitoring bracelets for 100 million baht. Use of the bracelets is expected to begin in May next year, according to the department.

The drafting of the terms of reference for the procurement of the monitoring bracelets is now under way, said Pasarn Mahalitrakul, director-general of the department.


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