Lie detector tests could be the answer to stopping offenders from reofeending. The UK Government are embracing lie detectors in sex offender and terrorism cases. Therefore, we discuss how much a lie detector test could help minimise crimes if used at interrogations and as more terms of release.

The plan

The government has been planning to increase the use of lie detectors. They want to monitor offenders on probation, specifically those convicted of terrorist offences and sex offences. This is one of several new measures to prevent a repeat of incidents such as the London Bridge attack. The attack was committed by an offender out in the community on license. However, offenders often lie about their actions, therefore making it difficult to decide which offenders can be released. A lie detector test can reduce this difficulty by testing an offenders intentions. Therefore it isn’t just down to the judgement of probation officers who poses a low risk if released.

How police plan to use the testing

Lie detectors are already in use in the UK for probation purposes. Since 2014, high-risk sex offenders have agreed to undergoing regular polygraph testing as part of their release agreement. Polygraphs were introduced as the accuracy rate falls between 85-90% whereas a person’s ability to spot lies which research suggests someone can do around 55% of the time.

However, there is another use for lie detector tests in probation. They encourage people to confess. Forensic psychologist Theresa Gannon and her colleagues studied this in 2014. They found that offenders were more likely to disclose something of interest when using the polygraph (75%, instead of 51% without). This disclosure often happened after the polygraph had indicated deception. It may be that offenders feel forced to make a confession after failing the polygraph. To conclude, the justice system is still debating the pros and cons to introducing lie detector exams to more areas of the law and the judging system. Whatever the outcome it is clear to see that polygraph testing is already benefitting the system in regards to sex offenders and terrorism cases.