Polygraph testing is to be introduced in South Yorkshire as a risk assessment and investigative tool for known sex offenders.
The initiative is being funded by the area’s Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright who said it would help protect vulnerable people and reduce the risks posed by potential offenders.
Tests will be offered on a voluntary basis as part of probation or bail conditions. The results will not be given in court as part of a prosecution, but will help the police address the risk factor of sex offenders and those caught in possession of indecent images of children.
Polygraph or lie detector testing has been around for many years but the UK has not previously sanctioned its use, due to questions over the results.
South Yorkshire Police Officers will be able to use it as a key tool to help them assess the risk factor of individuals on bail or probation and it will enable officers to address areas of concern for further investigation.
In trials run by another UK force (Hertfordshire), it led to three-quarters of offenders having their risk status and management increased, so offering greater protection to the public.
Suspects arrested for indecent child image offences are currently released on bail, whilst thorough investigative technical work is carried out. By assessing the risk factor of the offender, it will help police prioritise the criminal investigations and to determine if the individual is a further risk to the community.
All Polygraph testers must gain accreditation from the American Polygraph Association (APA). The training includes a comprehensive 400 hour, ten-week basic polygraph training course in Texas, followed by a 40 hour post-conviction sex offender testing course and finally a 40 hour quality assurance programme.
Commissioner Wright said : “The benchmark for experts in polygraph assessment is held by the APA. I have therefore provided funding for two South Yorkshire police officers to complete their polygraph training programme and become accredited. I will also fully support two police officers working full-time on the testing of sex offenders.
“I made plain in my Police and Crime Plan that protecting the most vulnerable people is society was one of my key priorities and this important initiative is further illustration of how I am trying to achieve that aim.
“The programme will reduce investigation costs and help us protect more vulnerable people as we come to understand the risks associated with some of this criminal behaviour.
“This is an excellent opportunity for officers to be proactive in their management of suspects on police bail and contribute to protecting and safeguarding more children at risk of sexual abuse.”
Posted on Wednesday 20th November 2013