In a groundbreaking move against sexual offenders, the National College of Policing in the UK has adopted a system of mandatory lie detector tests, expected to be fully operational by October. Emily Retter, The Mirror’s Chief Feature Writer, volunteered herself to experience the testing procedure first-hand.
The polygraph technology, recognized for its use in popular television shows like Jeremy Kyle, has now been repurposed as a tool to combat paedophilia. High-risk sex offenders released from jail will be subjected to these tests, ensuring no latent intent to reoffend stays hidden.
This week, law enforcement officers and probation service officials will complete an 11-week training course on the operational aspects of the polygraph machines. Among the first to employ these voluntary tests will be the Hertfordshire and South Yorkshire police departments from September.
Professor Don Grubin, a psychiatrist and trainer of this initiative, has championed the adoption of polygraphs in the UK. According to him, the results from the trials that he conducted on sex offenders are noteworthy, with significantly higher re-incarceration rates among those subjected to lie detector tests.
The incorporation of polygraphs into the sex offender management system is seen as a major step forward in monitoring and controlling their activities. Particularly after the revelations of offences committed by Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris, these lie detector tests are anticipated to curtail the recurrence of such incidents.
Despite the voluntary nature of the tests, many offenders are expected to participate, either to avoid police suspicion or because they genuinely want to stop their harmful behaviours. According to DCI Stuart Orton of the Hertfordshire Police, some have even requested regular tests to prevent a relapse into their destructive tendencies.
Even though polygraph results are not admissible in court, any revelations would set off a chain of investigations that could potentially lead to tighter supervision, increased surveillance, and decisions about safe living conditions for the offenders.
While the introduction of polygraphs is a novel move in the UK, it is commonplace in the USA, where two-thirds of offenders confess to their crimes, often prompted by the threat of the lie detector.
This development is an encouraging stride in the fight against paedophilia, with potential to serve as a significant deterrent to reoffending and an effective means to monitor released sex offenders.