UK to launch compulsory lie detector tests for serious sex offenders

Justice Minister Jeremy Wright

Sex offenders on licence in the UK will soon face one of the toughest approaches to supervision as the country launches training for highly skilled probation officers to become lie detector examiners.

Justice Minister Jeremy Wright confirmed that the probation officers have already begun rigorous training to become polygraph examiners. Around 1,000 will undergo the compulsory lie detector tests designed to make sure they are sticking to their licence conditions.

The lie detector is the latest in a series of plans to tighten up controls on sex offenders, which will also see their every movement tracked by satellite tags, when the technology is available. Libido suppressant drugs can also be prescribed to further reduce the risk posed by this group of offenders.

The polygraph training is being delivered by Behavioural Measures, led by Don Grubin, Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Newcastle University. Probation officers from the new National Probation Service (NPS) are undertaking the rigorous 12 week training programme, including intensive learning and regular assessments, to qualify as Polygraph Examiners.

“This Government is introducing lie detector tests for high risk sexual offenders, as well as satellite tagging to track their movements,” Mr Wright said. “We are determined that Britain has one of the toughest regimes in the world for managing sex offenders, to stop reoffending and to protect victims.”
Compulsory lie detector testing will start from October 2014, once the training has been completed.

This testing will be in addition to existing licence conditions which can include, signing the sex offender register, exclusion zones, non-contact orders, curfews, internet restrictions and compliance with sex offender treatment programmes. Offenders will be required to take the test every six months and, if found to have been covering up inappropriate behaviour, they are likely to be recalled to prison.

Professor Grubin said: “Polygraph tests can be an important tool in the management of sex offenders and can enhance provisions already in place.

“Previous studies have shown that 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.”