BERLIN: Police officers in the northern German city of Hanover are using Facebook to catch criminals in an experiment that might be expanded to other forces in the country.

Six months ago, Hanover police set up a Facebook account with appeals to the public to come forward to help solve cases.

This has already led to the clearing up of six cases, including one break-in, one car theft and one missing person.

The “Polizei Hannover” Facebook account has about 23 000 “friends” who pass on information to their own contacts, said police spokesman Stefan Wittke.

This had resulted in over 1.6 million “hits” on the police account in the past month.

“With Facebook we can reach quite a different audience than that of newspapers or television. Seventy percent of our Facebook fans are aged under 35.

“And, statistically speaking, the vast majority of people involved in violent crimes are young – whether they be victims, offenders or witnesses. In other words, with Facebook we can reach exactly the right target group.”

If considered successful, the six-month experiment, which ends this month, might be extended to other police forces in the country, added Wittke. – Sapa-AFP