Due to an increase in people arriving by dinghy along the Kent coast lie detector tests for asylum seekers have been recommended to the UK Home Office. The suggestion was made by David Wood, former Border Agency and Home Office Immigration executive.

Migrants arriving by dinghy

Toward the end of 2018 40 adult migrants with 2 children were rescued from 5 boats stating that they have come from Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq. It would be hard to imagine that they made their journeys without entering a safe country first.  It seems apparent that they are crossing the Channel from France.  Whilst figures vary depending on which news outlet you read, locals report that around 100 migrants/asylum seekers are arriving per week.

Mr Wood asserts that economic migrants are abusing the asylum process, describing the abuse as “rife”.  He believes that polygraph technology would identify deception.

Whilst the Home Office is not implementing lie detector tests for asylum seekers it does have the ability to do so.  For example, it is the Home Office that sanctions periodic tests for paedophiles and other sex offenders who are released early from prison.

Sajid Javid, the Home Secretary, recently expressed doubt as to whether some of the people arriving were actually authentic asylum seekers.

Civitas report

In a report, compiled by Mr Wood and published by Civitas (Institute for the Study of Civil Society) last week, it states that economic migration is being facilitated by the systems currently in place. As many as 15,000 invalid applications for asylum are processed annually.

Mr Wood considers that using modern lie detection technology during the screening process of those seeking asylum, will save time.  Rather than seeking proof of lies, he suggests that the application of this technology would enhance confidence that the refugees were being truthful.

He rightly points out that when answers are given that may be questionable; immigration staff will be able to concentrate on those specific areas.

The resistance by the Home Office to using such tests may be attributed to social attitudes. Many consider that refugees have gone through enough hardship without subjecting them to more. However, these opinions usually come about because of a misguided notion that polygraph tests are strongly interrogatory.  It may be the way that they are portrayed in films that leads to this belief. Nothing could be further from the truth.  With modern techniques the subject would have no more difficulty than answering the normal questions put to asylum seekers by immigration staff.

Scientific Content Analysis (SCAN)

The SCAN technique involves the subject completing a handwritten questionnaire which is then analysed by an expert polygraph examiner. Whereas many lie detection techniques rely on observing body language, SCAN studies the structure of statements made by the subject.  It crosses the barrier of cultures and makes it a perfect tool for immigration staff.  The translators then need to translate exactly what the subject has written down with no elaboration.  When the first analysis is done a follow up questionnaire is sent. For those that come back with deception indicated, a polygraph examination is then arranged.

The questionnaire can be completed as part of the application process so that statements can be analysed before the asylum seeker is interviewed.  If there are any areas in which deception is found it allows the interviewer to focus on them.

SCAN is a kind way of determining the truth without causing the refugee any discomfort.  It is also the best method when dealing with large numbers of applications. Generally humans love answering questions about themselves even if they are telling lies.

Lie detector tests for asylum seekers

We invite the Home Office to discuss the benefits of using lie detector tests for asylum seekers. The range of polygraph services we provide includes SCAN which we believe is by far the most efficient for this purpose. It is also highly cost effective.