Singapore - THE police learnt just how valuable social media can be in crime fighting when some villains turned themselves in after closed-circuit television images of them were posted on Facebook. Officers had put pictures of the suspects on the site hoping that information from the public might help them nab the culprits.
The suspects realised the game was up after finding out that their photos had been circulating widely on social media.
Police said that social media has helped solve at least 10 cases since November 2011.
It showed the importance of keeping pace with technology "to forge new partnerships with the community to fight crime", said Mr Edwin Tong, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Ccommittee for Home Affairs and Law.
He added that social media sites like Facebook can reach a wide audience quickly, enhancing the police's ability to educate the public on crime prevention, raise awareness and prompt the public to help.
The authorities have taken up the idea of going online to fight crime, with 21 Neighbourhood Police Centres (NPCs) now hosting their own Facebook pages - up from three last year.
Reaching out to the "cybercommunity" comes as the Singapore Police Force steps up efforts to implement the new Community Policing System (Cops) at all NPCs.
The system, first rolled out in May last year, includes the introduction of bicycle patrols and increasing the number of officers on the ground to deepen their engagement with the community. Cops has been adopted by 14 of the country's 35 NPCs. Six more will follow by the end of the month. It will be fully rolled out by the end of 2015.
Mr Tong, who is also an MP for Moulmein-Kallang GRC, was speaking at the opening of a five-day seminar at the Amara Singapore Hotel yesterday.
The event is part of the Japan- Singapore Partnership Programme for the 21st Century and covers community policing strategies and Singapore's NPC system, which was adapted from the Japanese "Koban" system. The annual seminar is being attended by 34 representatives from the police forces of 12 countries this year.