Lie Detector tests proposed for sex offenders.

20 June 2013

The government is seeking to reduce the chance of offenders re-offending on release by the use of compulsory polygraph tests, and state that two pilot schemes have shown signs that the measure has positive results.  The tests monitor heart rate, blood pressure and brain activity, and it is proposed that the 750 most serious offenders across England and Wales will be those subject to the requirement.
Their sentences will require them in any event to be subject to signing on the 'sex offenders register' and many are also subject to a Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) also imposed at the time of their sentence.  It is hoped that the scheme will encourage offenders to be more honest with their offender managers, and thereby enable probation service staff to more accurately assess the risks they may pose.  Also it is hoped that they will be encouraged to disclose breaches of their order or conditions of their licence to their offender manager, and help them recognise and manage their own behaviour more readily.
Any offender found in breach of the conditions of their licence would be subject to immediate recall to prison.
It is understood that the Prime Minister is encouraged by the results of the pilot schemes and is looking at extending the scheme throughout England and Wales, although the plans are in their early stages.
The Guardian reports that a source in Downing Street has said "It's vital that we protect the public from serious sex offenders. That's why the conditions after they leave prison need to be both strict and rigorously enforced.

"The pilot schemes using lie detectors to manage offenders in the community have been a success. So now we're looking at how it could be rolled out to provide probation officers with more information to manage the most serious offenders."

Although there have previously been concerns that such steps could be the subject of appeals to the European Court of Human Rights, Downing Street is said to be confident that this will not happen, as a recent case on the point where an offender took a case to Strasbourg under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, resulted in the lie detector test being deemed a proportionate way of preventing crime.

The above is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.