Amateur Detectives Take to Solving Crimes from their Couches in Britain

Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes in 'Sherlock'

Do you think you have what it takes to be the real Sherlock Holmes?

You noticed him in the beginning. Usually he’s unassuming, probably spoke briefly to the main character. He may have even been a suspect for a hot second, but they found a reason to let him go. He seems sweet or innocent enough, but you know better. The first half hour is spent with the leads questioning and pursuing more obvious villain types. Yet, the clues have pointed to him all along! He was too nice, too unassuming. He probably even helped lead the investigators to another suspect to throw them off, classic. The half hour mark hits and you’re now sitting at the edge of your couch, angry with crime solver’s failures.

“It’s him! It’s him!” you scream at the screen, roll your eyes, and sit back with a huff. “It’s so obvious! Why aren’t they paying attention?”

In the last fifteen minutes or so the detective FINALLY figures it out, the bad guy you’ve caught is found out, and once again a sense of accomplishment washes over you because you solved the crime. You noticed the clues when the fictional professionals couldn’t. You could easily do this for real.

At least, that’s what six in ten Brits think. In a recent poll it was found that 64% of devoted British crime drama watchers consider themselves “armchair detectives,” while 62% admitted to trying to figure the crime out before the show’s detectives figure it all out. In an even darker twist, 13% of the viewers said they could legitimately get away with murder because of what they’ve picked up from television. Oh.

Seeing as how their knowledge only comes from television shows, though, the viewers were also likely to believe some crime myths. For example, you actually do not have the right to make a phone call. 74% of people believed that to be true, but it’s a huge misconception. The police are required to notify someone of where you are, but that call doesn’t have to be made by you directly. Another huge misconception is that you cannot be tried for the same crime twice (63%), which we Americans call “Double Jeopardy.” While in America it is true, in the U.K., however, if you have been acquitted but “fresh and viable” evidence appears, you can be retried and found guilty.

So for those 13% of you who think you can commit murder, and then think that once you get off you can go around telling everyone that you got away with it, and where you buried the body, and that you’re Scott free to go about the rest of your life, you’re wrong. Sorry..

Oh, and the percentage of crimes that are solved with DNA? 1%. The amount of people who thought it was a majority of cases? 59%.

So, while I know trying to solve the crimes can be fun, and I do it all the time too—this is a girl who has seen every single episode of Law & Order: Special Victim’s Unit— maybe we should leave the real crime solving to the professionals. Especially considering the writers purposefully give us all the clues and the real guys actually have to find them.

Do you think you’d make a good real-life detective?

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