The newly installed immigration police chief wants to create a climate of fear against foreign criminals who are waiting for the opportunity to use Thailand as a base for their operations once inward tourism resumes into the country on a wider scale when the COVID-19 crisis ends. He says better screening and database technology has already helped to make Thailand less of a paradise for these types who use the country for drug trafficking and a range of online scams that not only damage the country’s reputation but cause harm to Thai people.
Thailand’s new Immigration Bureau boss wants a tighter ship when it comes to tracking foreign residents in the kingdom and tourists. It came after it took police five days last week to arrest an American man who is alleged to have raped a Thai woman in Khon Kaen with police eventually tracking the man down to a Bangkok address. Police Lieutenant General Pakpoomphiphat Sajjapan has also revealed that under new entry vetting procedures, Thailand’s Immigration Police can now halt any passenger boarding a plane for Thailand if the person is deemed a threat to the security and well being of the country. The new police boss wants to see an improvement in security databases and intelligence on foreigners living in Thailand going forward.
Thailand’s new Immigration Bureau chief, Police Lieutenant General Pakpoomphiphat Sajjapan, is calling for an improved database to keep track of foreigners entering the kingdom.
It follows the arrest, last weekend, of 37-year-old American Robert Andrew who has been charged with raping and seriously assaulting a 45-year-old masseuse worker at a massage parlour in Khon Kaen, a week previously.
Crazed American raped a 45-year-old masseuse and sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl in Khon Kaen
The crazed American afterwards sexually assaulted a 12-year-old girl and punched her in the mouth before being warned off by passers-by on the main highway in what is believed to have been a two-day rampage in the province while high on speed pills and crystal methamphetamine.
American tourist faces a Khon Kaen court on assault, rape charges after his arrest in Bangkok on Saturday
It is understood that Police Lieutenant General Pakpoomphiphat is unhappy that it took five days to track down and arrest the culprit even though he was relatively quickly identified by police by comparing his image from CCTV cameras to the nearest match on the immigration bureau database.
Located five days later in the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok and arrested on foot of a court order
He was later located in Bangkok at a condominium on Soi Nana Nuea off Sukhumvit Road in the city and arrested on foot of a warrant issued by the Khon Kaen Provincial Court where he was subsequently taken last week to be prosecuted.
The US man is reported to have later refused to cooperate and participate in a reenactment of the crime as is the custom and procedure of the Royal Thai Police.
The American had been in Thailand since January this year but had been granted a visa extension earlier on Ko Samui based on a temporary waiver granted by immigration bureau officials because of the COVID-19 emergency.
Police first check if the foreign suspect has a Thai wife or girlfriend in order to locate their quarry
The police chief explained that under current arrangements one of the first things police check is to see if the foreigner has a Thai wife or girlfriend in their efforts to track a suspect down or locate his current address.
The new Immigration Bureau boss has said that a new, improved database is required to keep track of foreign residents and tourists in Thailand so that they can more easily be located by police if they are suspected of being involved in criminal activity.
Police Lieutenant General Pakpoomphiphat took up the position from outgoing immigration police chief Police Lieutenant General Sompong Chingduang in mid-September and is set to make this a key issue of his tenure going forward.
More fastidious collection of data and information about foreigners in Thailand will be required
He has already given instructions that Immigration Bureau personnel are to be more fastidious with the collection of data as to the location and whereabouts of foreigners particularly when inputting information for the 90 days reporting system and the TM6 form which all incoming foreigners are still required to fill in on arrival in Thailand.
Speaking on Saturday, he said that his goal would be to make foreigners entering Thailand for the purpose of criminal activity think twice and to create an environment where they are fearful of doing so.
American will be deported eventually after serving his prison sentence and barred from Thailand forever
In the case of Mr Robert Andrew, he said it was now up to the courts to deal with the case against the American who is obviously facing a jail term but after the foreigner has finished serving any sentence meted out to him, the Immigration Bureau will see to it that the individual concerned is deported from Thailand never to return.
‘He has committed a crime, he will never be able to return to Thailand. If he travels using his passport, first name and last name, he will be sent back immediately,’ explained Police Lieutenant General Pakpoomphiphat.
Thai police can now halt passengers boarding planes
The new chief, who formerly worked with Thailand’s National Anti-Corruption Commission also revealed that under the new entry system for passengers travelling to Thailand, anyone purchasing a plane ticket to travel here can be vetted by the police and an order issued to ban them from boarding a flight to the kingdom in the first place.
He said that his force is ready for Thailand’s eventual reopening to foreign tourism which will inevitably bring with it the risk of more criminal types being among the holidaymakers who normally flock to the kingdom but have been kept away by the COVID-19 crisis.
Thailand is less of a playground for foreign criminals than in the past but the threat posed is still very real
Asked if he thought that Thailand was a playground for international criminals, he indicated that this was the case in the past but that in recent years the situation had been changing for the better with improved policing and screening of those seeking entry.
He still highlighted the dangers posed by unscrupulous travellers ranging from certain parts of the world from where organised drug traffickers used Thailand as a base for their nefarious operations to advanced online scams which often targeted Thai nationals as victims.
This was all in addition to foreigners who come to Thailand and end up inflicting physical harm on people.
Better database records so that a foreigner’s address can be obtained with just one click is the new goal
He said he is launching a drive to ensure that Immigration Bureau personnel inputting data on foreigners resident here create database records that are not defective and can locate a foreigner’s address with one click of a button.
He vowed that there will be severe punishment for officers who fail to enter this vital information properly into the system.
He said that as well as the Immigration Bureau’s existing database of foreigners entering Thailand, there is also a tracking system for locating the whereabouts of foreigners who sometimes change their visa types and addresses without notice while staying within the kingdom.
He suggested that such a problem arose in the case of the American which was later overcome by good police work.
Foreigners who commit crimes that cause public outrage must be arrested within 5 days but preferably within 24 hours demands new police chief
Police Lieutenant General Pakpoomphiphat said that it should be possible to locate and arrest any foreign wrongdoer involved in a case that has caused public outrage, like this one, within 24 hours or 5 days at the latest.
For normal cases, he suggested that a 7-day time limit should apply.
The newly appointed chief pointed out that even with the best screening system, the police are not fortune tellers and potential criminals with the right documentation will always manage to gain access to the country.
Aim is to create a climate of fear for criminals
This is why the system for tracking and locating foreigners must be improved so as also to create a climate of fear for would-be criminals when embarking on their criminal exploits in Thailand.
The new police boss also explained that his department would be working very closely with the National Security Council to improve security in Thailand and work against the danger of terrorists infiltrating the country.
Terrorism as a threat must also be met
Thai authorities currently work closely with Interpol, international security services and the embassies of other countries to assess and share intelligence.
This activity all pointed towards the urgent need for a more interconnected database between security agencies in the kingdom with more accurate data and faster response times.
‘What is important is cooperation between organisations. We have to open information to each other. In the past, we may have held hands loosely but now we have to work together more effectively. We must synchronise intelligence information. The Security Council and the Immigration Bureau must cooperate to create and affect a national security database.’