Police ask to search you in Thailand, here’s what you can do
We love it here in Pattaya that’s fairly obvious but many of you out there will have probably heard a horror story or two about the police in Thailand shaking people down for money or in some of the nastier stories planting evidence on a person in order to extort even more money out of a person to prevent a stay in the Bangkok Hilton. While we cannot speak as to the truth of ever story being told out there it is fair to say that some of them might be true, like all countries around the world corruption exists and where people are in a position of power comes the ability to abuse that power, that being said there are some things you can do here in Thailand to better protect yourself if an officer asks to search your belongings or vehicle.
The job of police officers here in the kingdom is to protect people and enforce Thai law, the police have the power to search a person or their property to either prevent or solve a crime, when a police officer asks to search you, you have to comply with their request or face arrest, that being said you can carry out a series of actions to make sure everything is done above board.
The first thing to do if you find yourself in a situation where an officer is asking to carry out a search is calmly and respectfully ask to see the officers identification, if the officer refuses or you suspect that they are not an actual police officer shout for help or call the police on 191 if no one is nearby.
Once you have established that the officer is indeed an officer of the law before they begin their search you are legally allowed to record the whole process as long as you do not interfere with their search and as near enough everyone has cameras in their smart phones nowadays its not a difficult thing to do and could help you out later, however if the police do lawfully discover some form of contraband or anything else that could land you in trouble the footage could be used as evidence against you in court.
Next request that an officer empty all of their pockets and clear any items that may be up their sleeves before they begin their search, by asking them to do this it will help lessen concerns that they might plant something during their search. If an officer refuses to carry out this request you might want to request additional people to witness the search and again careful record the whole process.
If an officer discovers something during the course of a search that doesn’t belong to you under no circumstances should you touch the item and or admit that the object is yours. Take photos of the object and ask to speak to an attorney or contact a family member and ask them to arrange one for you.
Lastly if an officer asks or insists that you sign a document make sure you read it carefully before signing it, if you need the document translating contact someone you trust to translate it for you first, do not simply rely on the word of the officer as to what it says, if what the document says is incorrect do not sign it. Similarly, if the document is not completely filled in or if it is entirely blank, again do not sign it. If what the document says is accurate initial each page to prevent pages being swapped out to make them say something else.
While it has to be said that the vast majority of officer here in Thailand and in Pattaya carry out their duties to the letter of the law and do a very good job keeping everyone safe by carrying out these steps you drastically reduce the chance of an unscrupulous officer or someone pretending to be a police officer attempting to plant evidence or extort money from you.