Hawke's Bay Police's Facebook page is not only proving popular with the general public, but also with criminals wanting to "see if their mates are on there".
Started last December, this month the page had had 8213 "likes", the highest number of followers for any police Facebook page in the country.
"We have a weekly reach of 23,120 people," said Hawke's Bay Police spokeswoman Kris McGeghan.
The audience was varied and included criminals.
"They are curious to see who we are looking for. In general, the page's popularity has a lot to do with people's voyeuristic tendencies and natural curiosity - they want to see who's in trouble and what's happening in their community.
"[They say] they only follow it to see if their mates are on there. That's a bonus for us, because the more eyes we have, the more potential information we can receive."
While the "likes" were good, the site's success at tracking down people wanted by police was even better.
"We have had great success with identifying people in security camera photos and finding people with warrants to arrest.
"Our strike rate for positive IDs on those is anecdotally around 80 per cent - which means we have been able to identify and prosecute dozens of shoplifters, thieves, burglars and vandals in the community.
"We've also been able to find numerous people wanted on warrants."
Ms McGeghan said the site was working in two ways. Members of the public were providing police with identifying information after looking at the page, "or the people themselves literally hand themselves in".
"We have run several people with warrants, they have seen themselves on the FB page, rung us asking us to take them off the page and they will come into the station."
The page was not just about finding or identifying people, Ms McGeghan said.
"We use it for crime prevention advice, general crime trends in the community, finding owners of recovered property and other information - including from other Government depts - that might be useful to people," he said.
"As young people especially move more towards social media as their main source of information, police have to keep up with those advances and become part of it."
- © Fairfax NZ News