Hugh Paxton’s Blog has met police in many countries. These encounters have confirmed my belief that the British police are the best in the world. There will be the occasional bad apple in every apple barrel and some pain in the arse cops who make a bit of a meal out of trivial transgressions.
But if you are back packing in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and see a copper he or she is a source of safety and, more usually, advice on where to turn left if you are hopelessly lost.
In other countries I’ve met police who don’t entirely live up to these high standards.
This travel advisory is based on a very recent case in Thailand:
To: Hugh Paxton
So I get a call from John who was out on the tiles last night and when he emerged slightly inebriated he was arrested by two dark clothed policemen roughed up hand cuffed and taken to the police station where they knocked him around a bit..he was trying to find out what he did to deserve this treatment and after 4 hours they let him go when he finally gave them the 40 quid he had in his pocket. Luckily a South African chap had said to him they would want money so he resorted to the bribe and when he was released the SA friend was still outside, gave him a cigarette to calm down then he went back to his hotel, shaken, but fine today!!!
Hey ho! He is fine and does not want to bother anyone over this! I think they are heading north soon!
I changed the backpacker’s name and I was a bit appalled he’d been given a going over. No drugs on his person (thank Gawd! The police had been hoping for that! And if they’d found them, this story wouldn’t be an anecdote – John would be in serious trouble and the escape bribe wouldn’t have been forty quid, it would have been four thousand).
He was just tired, had a few too many odd bucket cocktails on Khao San road, was a bit disorientated, -an 18 hour bus trip has that effect. He didn’t know why he was arrested. I do. If I was them I’d have grabbed him on sight. He fit the perfect tick box. White, wobbly, polite, non-violent, looked stoned (he does that normally, it’s his face) he probably smiled and said ‘hello.’
They thought he was under the influence of drugs and had some. John’s unaccustomed to this sort of treatment and thought police were on the streets to keep him safe. He expected a British policeman. They don’t work here.
My rather boring, but useful point, is that Thailand, South East Asia in general, can seem like a playground and an adventure and a gap year and in many cases it is a wonderful place to explore! If you wish to avoid giving your loving mummy panic attacks keep your passport/id on your person, stay with friends when exploring, and common street advice is to bribe your way out of police trouble as soon as you can before they slap you around. Please Note: Hugh Paxton’s Blog has no desire to be quoted on this advisory section. Not my idea, not my recommendation. Upholding the law is my priority!
Don’t be caught with drugs.
Here endeth the Hugh Paxton Blog Backpacker Traveler advisory. Thailand is a wonderful country to visit but like anywhere it has the occasional pitfall.