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Sherlock Holmes Stories and Law Enforcement Practice


Despite being written in the 21st century, the stories about Sherlock Holmes are still popular today. Shafritz and Borick (2011) believe that it can be more than entertaining reading, proposing an effective approach to investigating crimes. They are convinced that the fame of Sherlock Holmes resulted in “the increase in manufacturing productivity and standard of living brought about through scientific management” (Shafritz & Borick, 2011, p. 4). In addition, the stories had a significant impact on law enforcement practice, promoting evidence-based approaches and scientific management. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to present my reaction to the ideas presented by the authors and outline the connection between the ideas expressed in the book and a police organization.

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Conflict Management and Resolution

Sherlock Holmes contributed to promoting scientific management for applying to law enforcement and crime investigation practice. His approach impressed police officers, who stuck to old-fashioned ways, which were not effective. In general, the clients in the book applied to Sherlock Holmes due to the inability of the police to help them. The crime investigator highlighted that “detection is, or ought to be, an exact science and should be treated in the same cold and unemotional manner” (Shafritz & Borick, 2011, p. 8). Consequently, Sherlock Holmes made his approach popular, and later, other specialists contributed to its implementation to practice. It resulted in establishing the Principle of Scientific Management, which became basic for the criminal investigation process.

Another Sherlock Holmes contribution to conflict resolution regards circumstantial evidence. It should be mentioned that this methodology does not imply relying on the data provided by eyewitnesses. Instead, it focuses on the “attendant circumstances from which a judge or jury may inter facts and conclusions” (Shafritz & Borick, 2011, p. 9). In the case of Sherlock Holmes stories, the readers presented judges who could decide on the reliability of evidence. The famous crime investigator did not consider circumstances effective evidence for achieving the truth (Shafritz & Borick, 2011). He stimulated police officers to change their views in this regard in order to see other details which may be informative. In general, this approach had a considerable impact on law enforcement practice and resulted in more effectiveness of their profession.


It is undeniable that Sherlock Holmes was a prominent investigator who was capable of solving the most complicated cases. Today, a range of professionals in this field continue to stick to his approach, which appears to be an effective resource for shedding light on what is happening. Shafritz & Borick (2011) highlight that the actions of a talented crime science investigator were defined by his own system, which was extremely helpful for achieving the desired outcome. They mark: “he saw some of the pieces of a puzzle at a crime scene and, by using scientific methods and logical analysis, was able to come up with the missing pieces to get the whole picture” (Shafritz & Borick, 2011). Consequently, a case was perceived as a jigsaw puzzle, and it was required to find a missing piece.

This had a significant impact on law enforcement practice, as these days, specialists in this field follow the same approach. They systematically analyze the physical evidence, which is helpful for making a relevant hypothesis. In the end, they draw conclusions, which are based on logical deduction and evidence observed by them. Sherlock Holmes claimed: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth” (Shafritz & Borick, 2011, p. 6). Thus, this method allows us to find a solution to complicated crimes and prove the guilt of the suspected. In addition, this system is useful for approaching the analysis of a place where a crime was committed competently.

Delivery of Services

As it has been mentioned earlier, the fame of Sherlock Holmes influenced the delivery of services significantly. People were impressed by the talent of a crime scene investigator, and the cases he had to solve were intriguing to them (Shafritz & Borick, 2011). For this reason, the character changed the perception of the profession and its responsibilities to some extent. Specialists were more motivated to dive into their job, helping people to find solutions in challenging situations. Police officers understood their duties of defending the population and were motivated to do their best, remembering the example of Sherlock Holmes.


In conclusion, it may be stated that apart from being an entertaining story for both children and adults, Sherlock Holmes appears to be a powerful stimulus for changing law enforcement practice. By showing stories of investigating complicated crimes, the character advanced effective methods, which were not used by police officers at that period. He motivated them to adhere to scientific management and changed their point of view concerning circumstantial evidence. The talented crime scene investigator proposed his own system, which is used by modern specialists in this sphere. In addition, he impacted the motivation of colleagues to do their best and provide the best possible outcomes. Consequently, the book appears to be something more than entertaining stories about detectives.

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Shafritz, J. M. & Borick, C. (2011). Cases in public policy and administration. Routledge.

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