Extortion: Police station chiefs warned

All police station chiefs nationwide will face “administrative punishment” if their subordinates are found to have extorted money from motorcycle taxi drivers, the assistant national police chief said on Sunday.

Pol Lt Gen Ruangsak Charitek was speaking after two officers, one from Thung Mahamek station and one from Tha Rua station, were accused of extorting money from motorcycle taxi drivers in areas under their control. 

Pol Lt Gen Ruangsak said he had ordered superintendents of all police stations to come up with measures to prevent their staff from demanding protection money from motorcycle taxi queues. Officers found guilty of extortion would face both decisive disciplinary action and criminal penalties, he said, and their commanders would face administrative punishment for failing to properly supervise their men.  

The Office of the Inspector General had been instructed to set up task force units to investigate officers or other individuals involved in collecting protection money, he said. The units would act on tip-offs already given by members of the public and would carry out both overt and covert random inspections on motorcycle taxi queues. They were required to report their findings every seven days.

Pol Lt Gen Ruangsak, who oversees traffic affairs, said police would also produce an official map of all motorcycle taxi queues nationwide to deal with the problem more effectively.   

There are currently more than 10,000 motorcycle taxi queues with 200,000 drivers in Bangkok alone, he added. 

The assistant national police chief said police, soldiers and concerned agencies would continue to work together to re-organise public passenger vehicle services including motorcycle taxis as the policy had received good feedback from the public. He urged people to send information about influential figures or state officers extorting money from public vehicle operators via Hotline 1599 which is open 24 hours a day.    

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