U.K. Government continues to support Enlarging the Use of Polygraph Examination (Lie Detector Tests) as a tool to assist in the effective ‘Risk Management’ of Criminal Offenders

On the 22nd October 2021 the U.K. Government has announced in a policy paper that they are introducing a 3 year pilot plan using mandatory ‘Polygraph Examinations’ for the perpetrators of Domestic Violence to assist in informing related ‘risk assessments,’

How this will be Implemented?

  • The Domestic Abuse Act enables the Secretary of State for Justice to introduce a regime of ‘Mandatory Polygraph Examinations’ for ‘High Risk Domestic Violence Offenders’
  • The U.K. Probation Service will enlarge their teams of trained Polygraph Examiners to conduct this work; initially for the project phase this will be conducted in 4 areas
  • The Polygraph Examinations will be conducted normally 3 months after the offenders release and then, subject to the individual passing, every 6 months. When someone fails an examination then the frequency of the requirement to undertake Polygraph Examinations will be increased

Background:

  • Polygraph Examinations have been used by the U.K. Probation Service for the management of Sexual Offenders since 2014.
  • The Polygraph is used on offenders who have been released on license from prison to monitor the ongoing risks these individuals pose to other members of society
  • The Polygraph is used to monitor compliance with particular conditions of the offenders license such as visiting schools, being alone with vulnerable people using prohibited areas of the internet etc.
  • The Polygraph is also used to monitor changes in other behavioral patterns that could increase the risks posed by an individual such as consumption of alcohol or other recreational drugs and the association with other Sexual Preditors.

Who will be tested using this methodology?

  • Persons who are over 18 years old and have been assessed using the Nationally Accredited ‘Risk Management’ tools as posing a ‘High’ or ‘Very High’ risk
  • Persons who have been convicted of Murder, another ‘Specified Violent Offence, breach of a restraining order for domestic Abuse or controlling or Coercive Behaviour in an intimate or family relationship
  • The individual will need to have been sentenced to a term of 12 months or more imprisonment and have been released on licence

If a Polygraph Examination is failed can this result in a recall to prison?

  • In the event that an individual fails a mandatory Polygraph Examination they will be required to undertake more Polygraph Examinations. Information about the failed Examination will normally be shared with the appropriate Police Force who may instigate further investigations following this failure
  • A person is not recalled to prison for ‘failing the Polygraph Examination’ but can be returned if, as often happens, during the ‘Pre’ or ‘Post’ test interviews admissions are made to activities that are not compliant with their license conditions
  • In the event that the Polygraph Examiner forms the view that the Examinee has deliberately used ‘Counter Measures’ to try and ‘beat or trick’ the Examiner then they can be recalled to prison

Who will undertake these Examinations?

Experienced Probation Officers who have undertaken and passed accredited training courses to become a Polygraph Examiner; all of these individuals are required to continue to be Members of the American Polygraph Association

What are the benefits of Mandatory Polygraph Examinations?

In the UK over 5,000 Mandatory Polygraph examinations have been administered with over 3,000 of these cases producing significant disclosures of ‘non license compliant behaviour by individuals.’

What is the accuracy of the Polygraph Examination process?

The U.K. Government Policy Paper estimates the accuracy of Polygraph Examinations to be between 80% – 90%. Research by the American Polygraph Association found the accuracy of a single diagnostic test, when administered by a properly trained and experienced examiner, to be between 85% and 90%.

Can the Polygraph Examination results be used in the U.K. Court system?

The results of ‘Polygraph Examinations’ can not normally be introduced into Evidence in a U.K. Criminal Court system. The results can be introduced into Civil cases but this is at discretion of the Judge or Chair of the adjudicating panel.

Case Studies where the benefits of Mandatory Polygraph Examinations in the U.K. have resulted in the identification of breaches of License and led to offenders being recalled to prison and prosecuted for additional offences:

‘A’ was a 47 year old male who was convicted of Sexually Abusing young boys and sentenced to 9 years imprisonment.

  • His License stated that he was not allowed to meet children under the age of 18 years old and was required to undertake mandatory Polygraph Examinations to ensure compliance with this and other behavioural patterns
  • A Polygraph Examination indicated that ‘Deception was Indicated’ when he stated ‘NO’ – that since his release he had not met any children under the age of 18 years.
  • This failure was disseminated to the offenders Probation Officer and Police who went to the offenders address and met him returning to his address. On entering the premises it was established that there were 3 young boys and another adult in the house.
  • ‘A’ was recalled to prison and the Police Instigated an investigation into potential new offences

‘B’ is a 33 year old male who was convicted of downloading indecent images of children and had been sentenced to 3 years imprisonment

  • He was released on license which included the following 2 conditions
    • that he can only possess internet devices that have been approved by his Probation Officer
    • that he is subject to taking Mandatory Polygraph Examinations
  • The Examinee failed the Polygraph Examination when asked if he had possession of any ‘non – approved’ internet devices
  • Police obtained a search warrant for this Examinees address and when executing this discovered numerous smart phones and USB sticks containing indecent Images of children
  • The Offender was arrested, charged with additional offences and returned immediately to prison