Budget spending on National Police officers rose last year due to increased training of forces, including anti-demonstration police, official data has shown.
According to the annual report of the Interior Ministry’s general department of logistics and finance issued on Wednesday, budget spending for public security police officers increased nearly 16 percent in 2017 compared with 2016.
In 2016, about $275.6 million was spent, which rose to about $319.3 million in 2017.
The government provided a total budget of more than $10.51 million last year, which supported 3,190 National Police officials. About 22 percent of the budget, or $2.32 million, was spent on anti-demonstration efforts.
Speaking after the meeting, National Police spokesman General Kirth Chantharith said police officers from across all departments were training more because they wanted to increase their skills.
“It is not difficult to understand. When they train more, more money is needed,” he said.
“We want our forces to get stronger and more skilled for the work they are held responsible for, so they need more training.”
San Chey, president of the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, asked why so much was needed for police officers to crack down on protesters when government officials always claimed the country was at peace.
“I think that spending more on poor people and those who suffer from land disputes would be better than increasing the budget for police officers who crack down on the people who peacefully protest,” he said.
“The government should send more money to rural police officers who are lacking equipment for their work in providing security for the people.”
A report released earlier this month said that 2017 saw 1,760 demonstrations, strikes and protests, an increase of 162 compared to 2016.
Last year, there were 613 protests by citizens and associations, 888 by federations, unions and workers, 60 by civil society organisations and teachers, and 195 by political parties.
In 2016, there were 1,598 demonstrations, strikes and protests, including 221 by citizens and associations, 966 by federations, unions and workers, 52 by civil society organisations and teachers, and 359 by political parties