Latest on UK plans to polygraph sex offenders

UK Home Secretary John Reid is pressing ahead with plans to roll out compulsory polygraph examinations of sex offenders, reports the Sunday Times (28 January):

John Reid is to introduce compulsory lie detector tests for the first time in Britain to assess whether paedophiles are at risk of reoffending.

The home secretary is backing a legal amendment that would allow compulsory polygraph tests to monitor sex offenders after their release from jail. Probation officers would be able to subject paedophiles to tests measuring their breathing, heart rate and sweat to establish whether they were safe to remain in the community.

[…] Reid’s plans for lie detector tests will enable him to make clear his determination to protect the public from paedophiles, regardless of the overcrowding problem in prisons. Home Office sources confirmed that Reid would support a Labour backbench amendment enabling extensive pilot schemes to assess whether compulsory polygraphs can reduce reoffending.

When the tests were first mooted by David Blunkett, the former home secretary, two years ago the idea provoked a cabinet split. So far only volunteers have taken part in the trials, which are therefore less likely to include recidivists.

The new law, part of the National Offender Management Service bill, will give probation officers the power to make tests compulsory.

See also:

  • Deception Blog post from December 06 on the topic, with links to relevant peer reviewed research.