Pattaya’s ineffective safety zones get ‘happy’


First came “safety zones”, now the Royal Thai Police is branding parts of Pattaya “happy zones” in a renewed effort to combat a crime rate besmirching the city’s image.

Chonburi Police commander Pol. Maj. Gen. Somprasong Yentuam announced 35 rebranded safety zones at a Feb. 21 press conference with city, district and military officials. The only apparent difference between the joyful new areas and the additional safety zones that Provincial Police Region 2 announced on Feb. 6 appears to be the name.

Royal Thai Police say that Happy Zones will be the answer to prevent crime.
Royal Thai Police say that Happy Zones will be the answer to prevent crime.

The rebranding likely occurred because safety zones widely have been called ineffective public relations stunts. Within days of Walking Street being again anointed a safety zone in December, two pickpocketing cases and a hotel safe burglary were reported.

But police brass were under pressure to do something after another English tabloid again dealt Pattaya a black eye by salaciously – and inaccurately – sensationalizing the city’s sprawling sex industry and petty crimes. By announcing new steps to beef up security, police can at least give the appearance they are “cleaning up” the beach resort.

At the press event, police educated business operators on what the zones were and how it can benefit them if they cooperate.

The zones are the highest-trafficked areas of the city, such as Walking Street. Not all the zones have been designated, but 35 is the goal.

The happy zones will be where additional police officers will be assigned to assist tourists and prevent crimes. All business in the zone will be urged to install CCTV cameras and cooperate with police when requested.

They also are required to report any suspicious activities, ban underage customers, check for weapons and drugs and more. The main goal is to keep an eye on the public and secure all tourists. With more “eyes” watching, crime rates can be gradually reduced, police argued.