Published on August 26, 2007
The public opinion survey on police structural reform received valid responses from 8,613 members of the public and police officers nationwide from January to July.
Noppadol Kannikar, director of Assumption University's Abac Poll Research Centre, said most people held a dim view of the police.
They cited police being under powerful politicians (87 per cent), discriminating while providing services to the public (77 per cent), extorting money and requesting bribes (72 per cent) and using money to buy desirable transfers and positions (67.5 per cent). People with direct experience in police work at police stations in 24 provinces were asked for negative and positive impressions.
On the negative side, they noted unfriendliness (33 per cent), understaffing with on-duty officers (23 per cent), lack of hi-tech tools (27 per cent), threats against them (16 per cent), inappropriate behaviour such as drinking and gambling (15 per cent), asking for bribes (10 per cent) and beating suspects (8 per cent).
On the positive side, they answered friendliness (79 per cent), good service/advice (74 per cent), hard-working officers (68 per cent), fair police work (61 per cent) and timely access to crime scenes (60 per cent).
Aspects that the surveyed police officers wanted to be reformed include a payment hike for low-ranking officers (95.5 per cent), adjustment of police investigators' salaries to be the equivalent of public prosecutors' pay (82 per cent) and internal adjustments for missions such as transnational crimes (80 per cent).
On problems working with supervisors, 57.5 per cent of the polled police said they gave benefits to supervisors in exchange for positions and career survival, 57 per cent thought there were too many supervisors and 55 per cent had problems with discrimination from their supervisor.
About obstacles in police units' operations, the polled officers cited the lack of hi-tech and effective tools (98 per cent), overall budget shortage (96 per cent) and unrealistic budget allocation for police tasks (95 per cent). They also cited the low salary that was not in line with real living conditions and expenses (93 per cent) and the staff shortage to handle the workload (88 per cent).
Noppadol's comments were made during his visit to Chiang Mai along with General Wasit Dejkunchornto, chair of the police reform panel, to gather views on the police reform plan.
Wasit said reform was necessary because the force centralised tasks, had a long chain of command and used a transfer system that still disregarded justice. Salaries are not commensurate with workloads while low-ranking officers are disheartened by having no chance to become commissioned officers, he said.
The reform plan would smooth police operations and allow more public participation in monitoring the police, he said.