UK & World News
Sex Offenders Face Lie Detector Tests
A thousand of the UK's most high-risk sex offenders are to undergo mandatory lie detector tests, under new measures announced by the ministry for justice today.
Probation officers are being trained in how to use polygraph examiners as part of new measures to toughen up the monitoring of convicted paedophiles and reduce the danger they pose to the public.
Don Grubin, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Newcastle University, whose company Behavioural Measures is leading the training, said: "The aim of the testing is to assist offender managers in supervising the offenders.
"There is not a specific crime you are investigating, not a specific security breach, it's much more of a general tool to look at how they are behaving under supervision and to see whether there is a need to intervene."
"It's important to emphasise that nobody will be recalled because they failed a test ... polygraph testing both facilitates the disclosure of information and alerts offender managers to possible deception, allowing them to work with offenders in a more focused way."
A group of seven officers will administer the tests to sex offenders deemed at high risk of reoffending or convicted of the most serious offences, in a 12-week training programme administered by polygraph experts from the US, where use of the devices is much more common.
As well as undergoing lie detector tests every six months, the Government has also announced plans to use satellite tags and controversial libido suppressant drugs, also known as "chemical castration".
Sex offenders already have to abide by licence conditions, including signing onto the sex offenders register, adhering to exclusion zones, curfews, internet restrictions and non-contact orders.
But there are hopes that the addition of lie detector tests will help probation services better monitor the risk of reoffending.
Justice minister Jeremy Wright said: "We are determined that Britain has one of hte toughest regimes in the world for managing sex offenders, to stop reoffending and to protect victims."
According to the most recent figures there are 43,664 registered sex offenders in the UK. Reoffending rates have been a persistent cause for concern, with 13% of adults convicted of a sex offence committing further offences.
This is the first time that mandatory lie detector testing will be used by probation services across the UK, but the Government says that a pilot conducted between 2009 and 2011 in the East and West Midlands found that those who took the tests were twice as likely to admit having breached the terms of their licence or having thoughts that suggested they continued to pose a risk.
Two police forces are already are also using lie detectors for people arrested on suspicion of indecent images of children.
But the use of polygraphs remains controversial, with some concerned about the reliability of the devices.