Police trial lie detector tests on sex offender suspects
Police have begun using lie detector tests on suspected sex offenders in a trial which could be widened.
Hertfordshire Police confirmed it had been using polygraphs, which monitor heart rate, brain activity, sweating and blood pressure, during questioning.
The pilot scheme was being used to help decide whether to charge suspects, according to The Times.
But the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said the tests were at a very early stage.
The Times reported that Hertfordshire Police tested 25 "low-level" sex offenders, with some making disclosures they might otherwise have been unlikely to and others apparently lying - prompting officers to conduct further investigations.
Acpo said its Homicide Working Group advised police on the use of polygraph techniques and would follow the trial in Hertfordshire with interest.
A spokeswoman said: "Polygraph techniques are complex and are by no means a single solution to solving crimes, potentially offering in certain circumstances an additional tool to structured interrogation.
If they polygraph six people and they get five truthful results and one deceptive, they can home in on that person”
Formerly of the British Polygraph Association
"These initial trials are in their very early stages and we will follow their progress, working with chief officers across the country to provide further guidance if necessary.
"Whether these techniques are adopted elsewhere in the country is a matter for individual chief constables."
Acpo represents chief police officers from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Hertfordshire Police confirmed its use of the pilot scheme but would not give any further details.
Bruce Burgess, a former chairman of the British Polygraph Association, said that in the US lie detectors were considered to be a useful "investigative tool", even though they produced evidence that was "very difficult to get into court" and were unlikely ever to be used as "a guilty or innocent tool".
He said offering polygraph tests to a number of suspects could provide a degree of insight if, for example, somebody refused to take the test.
He added: "If they polygraph six people and they get five truthful results and one deceptive, they can home in on that person and cut down on a lot of police work. That's the way it's used in America."
Although routine in police investigations in the US, the results of lie detector tests are considered too unreliable for use in criminal trials in the UK.
Acpo said it was providing advice to other police forces. A spokeswoman said it was a choice for individual chief police officers whether they adopted similar techniques.
Although the Hertfordshire pilot looked at the use of lie detectors to aid decisions over whether or not to charge suspects, a three-year pilot study in the East and West Midlands could lead to the compulsory testing of convicted sex offenders.
The Ministry of Justice has been overseeing the project, aimed at testing sex offenders as part of their probation conditions when they are freed from prison.
candyfloss wrote:He added: "If they polygraph six people and they get five truthful results and one deceptive, they can home in on that person and cut down on a lot of police work. That's the way it's used in America."
If they refused to accept the results of Police dogs Eddie and Keela's, who have a 100% track record, which would have saved Britain's tax payers 3.4M and more. What makes us think they will listen to a polygraph.
The next thing we will be hearing is that Kate and Gerry took the test and passed.