Free Legal Services in English – at key Phuket Police Stations

Volunteer lawyers with English-speaking capabilities will turn up to aid Thais and foreigners, including tourists, in trouble with the law at Phuket City Police Station and Patong Police Station – free of charge – starting this Sunday.

The free legal services is part of a nationwide campaign by the Lawyers Council of Thailand to empower people with knowledge of the law, explained Nuannit Chantawong of the Phuket chapter of the Lawyers Council of Thailand.

The free legal advice will be available at the two police stations from 8:30am to 4pm seven days, except public holidays, she added.

“There are now 32 lawyers who have signed up to become volunteer lawyers in Phuket (as of May 30),” Miss Nuannit told The Phuket News.

“The number of volunteer lawyers is likely to increase further,” she added.

Lawyers have easier access to people in need of legal assistance at police stations, Miss Nuannit noted.

“This in turn will save costs (of the state) by reducing the number of cases heard in court and redress social inequality by providing people with access to legal services,” she added.

The project – which is expected to continue for six months – was approved by Cabinet on Mar 19, with volunteer lawyers approved to provide free legal advice at 150 police stations in the country, Miss Nuannit noted.

“Tourists and other foreigners, who often get into transportation-related problems such as car accidents, often do not understand police workings. The volunteer lawyers at police stations can ould help solve this problem,” she added.

“The volunteer lawyers, who can speak in English, will be available at Patong Police Station. In addition, each police station (involved in the project) will have an interpreter that can translate between English and Thai,” she said.

“This will make it better if a tourist or foreigner works and talks with us. If they have any doubts, we suggest they bring their own translator to help communicate at the police station, so the cases can clear faster,” Miss Nuannit said.

The Lawyers Council of Thailand expects some 10,000 lawyers to sign up to assist with the project, in order to provide free legal services to an estimated 250,000 people.

The Lawyers Council of Thailand is expected to hold a series of public conferences this Saturday (June 8) to bring police up to speed with the project.