A police car snapped driving in Rotorua with a broken brake light was singled out for playful criticism on social media, but police say the person who took the photo should have informed the station instead.

Facebook user Anaru Ft Celeste posted a picture to the Facebook group "You know your from Rotorua when ... [sic]" of a police car waiting at a red light with its left brake light out yesterday.

A comment thread underneath the picture showed the delight some members of the group were taking in the apparent irony of a police officer driving a ticketable car.

"Just let them drive round with it till they pull u or someone up then u can tell them to boot it and come talk to you when they have their WoF up to standard [sic],' wrote Cheyd Mishh Toa. "Then laugh and drive off."

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"Bad how da law thinks they don't have to abide by the laws they make shameless pricks [sic]," wrote Chanel de Har.

However, some commenting thought the criticism was unfair.

"I remember getting my tail light fixed and literally by the afternoon it had blown again. They probably didn't know," wrote Angelique Lamb.

Rotorua Senior Sergeant Steven Shaw confirmed the driver probably did not realise, as the car was part of a fleet used 24 hours a day by many different drivers.

"Now that it's been brought to our attention we'll fix it, it's as simple as that."

He said he would prefer if people alerted police to incidents like this rather than post to social media, "just like we tell members of the public", he said.

"At the end of the day we deal with these things all day every day."

Acting Sergeant for road safety Chris McLeod said police gave members of the public a chance to fix safety hazards like broken tail lights before they issued a ticket, so similarly there was no need to discipline the officer driving the car at the time the photo was taken.

"It's all about road safety. It's not about fining people, and certainly not for minor road safety incidents like this."

He said the car in question was currently at the Rotorua police station's preferred mechanic getting fixed.