Police gun welfare scheme frozen

Police gun welfare scheme frozen

Authorities hope freeze will make it easier to track weapons being sold illegally

Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol inspects firearms at the arms storage room of a police station. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)
Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol inspects firearms at the arms storage room of a police station. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)

The Royal Thai Police (RTP) will postpone indefinitely its gun welfare scheme in order to prevent unscrupulous officers from selling guns online.

Thefts of guns at government agencies were often inside jobs, deputy national police chief Pol Gen Torsak Sukvimol acknowledged on Friday as he announced the decision.

Police commanders, particularly chiefs of police stations, have been ordered to make more frequent checks of weapons being kept at their arms storage facilities. They must also check whether the distribution of weapons for use has followed proper procedures. Random checks of weapons at stations will be part of the new regime, he added.

Abuse of the gun welfare system by police as well as other government employees is said to be the main reason for the unusually high number of guns, legal and illegal, in circulation in Thailand. Online gun sales are a booming business.

Police say officials at some state agencies have used the rights to acquire guns at low prices, known as Por 3 certificates, to purchase guns and then sold them in the black market, without applying for a licence for possession and use, known as a Por 4 certificate. Some have been known to use their Por 3 certificates to buy as many as five guns at a time before selling them online.

Some firearms are sold to buyers in neighbouring countries where prices are as high was 50,000 baht each, said Pol Gen Torsak, adding that investigations were under way to take action against offenders.

The RTP expects that putting its gun welfare scheme on hold will make it easier to check when guns were stolen to carry out crimes or sold online.

As well, police guns will be fitted with stickers showing basic details such as registration number, manufacturing date, record of storage or disbursement for use and when a device has been fired, said Pol Gen Torsak. The US-developed sticker system is used in many countries and has proved highly effective in preventing gun thefts, he added.

As a long-term measure, the RTP plan to use a QR code or barcode for police guns instead of account books to track disbursement. This should help prevent thefts such as the one that was recently uncovered at the Pak Kret police station in Nonthaburi, he said.

In that case, a total of 159 guns disappeared from the Pak Kret station’s gun storage over a period of five years, with the perpetrator using fake documents claiming they had been signed out by officers. Authorities are still tracking down many of the missing weapons.

Pol Snr Sgt Maj Chaowalit Phumkhachorn, who was attached to the Pak Kret station, was arrested on Oct 20 at a hotel in Nong Khai in connection with the thefts.

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