VIEWERS who struggle to separate fact from fiction are getting a distorted view of police work because of its exciting portrayal on TV, researchers have found.

A survey of retired police officers found that the work of television detectives bears little resemblance to their real-life work.

The research found people watching the likes of Glasgow-based Detective Chief Inspector Jim Taggart, his successor Matt Burke, Edinburgh-based Inspector John Rebus, and other high-profile crime shows, get the idea police work is high-octane and dynamic - but they are mistaken.

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The former officers suggested that, even on murders, the job is often mundane and routine and too boring to be broadcast.

The study was carried out by reseachers at Manchester Metropolitan University. Dr Martin King from the university pointed out the big difference between television police and real life: "Cops on TV serve a particular function: to reassure the public that safety can be restored within a one-hour slot with all the loose ends tied up."