Bangkok’s 191 emergency hotline lags behind

Officers handling calls for the 191 emergency hotline at the Traffic Control and Command Center in Bangkok. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The 191 emergency hotline service in Bangkok, the city of more than 10 million people, did not make it to the top three in an evaluation while Chiang Mai was the only tourist destination in the ranking, a recent police assessment has found.

ASTV Manager reported the assessment was conducted by the Royal Thai Police’s information technology and communications office by the order of national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda. The goal was to improve public service satisfaction in line with police reform policy. 

“Long wait before call-taking, busy lines, and slow responses are the problems that need to be solved urgently,” Pol Lt Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas, the office’s head said on Tuesday. 

Details of the criteria used for the assessment, which covers 191 hotline centres in all provinces, were not released.

Kanchanaburi’s 191 call centre ranked first for service excellence among large provinces, followed by Nakhon Pathom and Chiang Mai. 

Phetchaburi and Phetchabun led in the medium-sized and small province group while the best 191 service in the strife-torn deep South was in Pattani.

Pol Lt Gen Damrongsak said the 191 emergency call number handled about 10 million calls each year. The service started in 1978 and gradually expanded to cover all provinces in 2014.

Gen Chakthip wanted the performance assessment to encourage officers to compete for better public service, he added, and to respond to the government’s policy on making 191 the only national emergency number because it was already the most familiar among people.

Chalermphan Phanthupo, a 38-year-old Bangkok resident, said a follow-up response would be a nice addition to the service.

He made several 191 calls to report various incidents over the past year, such as a gathering of teen motorcycle racers and a suspected suicide attempt on Rama VIII bridge.

He had no problem reaching the centre. However, he said he never knew how quickly or if the police would take any action following each call, and he had to make another call and ask them if he wanted to know about the progress of the reported incidents.      

“About 10 years ago, I called 191 to report about a motorcyclist who chased and blocked the taxi in which I was travelling. The man tried to assault the driver because of some misunderstanding on Phra Athit Road in one afternoon.

“Less than 10 minutes later, a policeman called back and said he had arrested the motorcyclist and would detain him at a police station. It turned out he was driving under the influence. 

“That was my first 191 call and I had to admit I was impressed. I didn’t expect such a quick response from the police. Unfortunately, it was the only incident I got a response on,” Mr Chalermphan said.

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