Lie detectors to be used against sex offenders

By staff

Sex offenders will be forced to take lie detector tests to ensure they are not interfering with children – starting today.

The pilot scheme will run in areas in the east and west Midlands for three years, while the government tries to establish its success rate in managing sex offenders.

Analysis of how trustworthy lie detectors are.

Offenders will be forced to take the tests as part of their probation conditions on release from prison, or face being sent back.

“Polygraph testing of sex offenders is part of a package that is aimed at preventing new sex offences from being committed,” said professor Don Grubin, who is carrying out the tests.

“Disclosures made during polygraph examinations, as well as conclusions drawn from passed or failed examinations, allow probation officers and the police to intervene to reduce risk.”

Each polygraph session will take between one and a half and two hours and will consist of three phases.

During the pre-test interview the offender will be told of the questions they are to be asked in the polygraph examination which may mean they make relevant disclosures before actually taking the test.

The offender will then be attached to the polygraph machine and asked the questions.

The polygraph operator will interpret the offender’s responses, and then a final interview will take place during which the offender will be confronted with the results of the test and asked to account for any failed tests.

The offenders put on the pilot scheme will be selected by their probation officer, in all likelihood on the basis of them being at particularly high risk of reoffending.

So far, 25 sex offenders are lined up to take the tests, with an estimated 350 – 450 to be tested over three years.

In a previous – voluntary – pilot, probation staff rated polygraph testing as being helpful in 90 per cent of cases. The basis of this three-year pilot is to establish whether the tests should be made mandatory for all sex offenders.

“Putting in place thorough systems to ensure high level vigilance of serious sexual and violent offenders on their release from prison is vital in our work protecting communities from crime,” said justice minister David Hanson.

But there are concerns about the technology, with some experts warning that is can produce false positives – cases where truth-tellers are found to be lying.