LIE DETECTORS BLOG & NEWS: NADAC GROUP
Sex offenders face lie-detector tests to assess their risk to the public
Sex offenders are to be forced to take lie detectors to see if they are a risk to the public or are breaking the terms of their release from jail, the Government announced yesterday.
A pilot scheme is to begin next year to test the use of polygraphs on sex offenders, including rapists and paedophiles, freed from prison on licence.
The results will determine how probation officers and police monitor offenders living in the community, including increasing the restrictions on their movements.
But the findings from the trials, which are to last three years, will not be admissible in court.
Today’s announcement comes after an earlier pilot scheme involving ten probation areas in England and Wales which showed that almost 80 per cent of lie-detector tests prompted admissions from offenders.
A test will last about an hour and a half and will monitor an individual’s heart rate, sweating, brain activity and blood pressure while they are asked a series of questions by private-sector companies. The firms would send the results back to the local probation service involved in the pilots.
Since the original pilots which were only conducted on a voluntary basis, ministers have changed the law to allow polygraph testing to be included in a release licence and for them to be mandatory.
If the pilots are successful, parliament could be asked to approve the scheme being rolled out throughout the whole of England and Wales.
The previous studies were conducted in Thames Valley, Northumbria, West Midlands, eastern region, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, Lancashire, North and West London, Manchester and Devon and Cornwall.
Ninety per cent of probation officers said that the testing of offenders had been helpful in assisting them assessing the risk sex offenders posed to the public.
It was found that offenders were more likely to disclose information relevant to their behaviour and treatment when challenged with the results of their tests.
The pilots found among those taking the polygraph new disclosures relevant to treatment for sex offending and supervision were made in 79 per cent of first examinations and 78 per cent of retests.
Almost one third of new disclosures by sex offenders occurred when they were challenged by probation staff in interviews conducted after a polygraph test.
However, the weakness of the earlier tests was that they were conducted on a voluntary basis resulting in fewer than half of those eligible taking part.
The Ministry of Justice said that consultation is now under way to decide where the pilot scheme should operate.
Lie-detector tests are widely used in the United States for monitoring sex offenders and in criminal inquiries, custody evaluations and professional sexual misconduct cases.