Following a Freedom of Information application by a leading UK national news website it has been revealed that very few sex offenders are sent back to prison, after failing a lie detector test.

Paedophiles and other sexual predators are obliged to take polygraph tests every 6 months when they are released from prison on licence. The object of the tests is to ascertain whether they have breached the conditions of such release.

Between August 2015 and February 2018, 2,509 lie detector tests were taken by sex offenders. Of these 702 failed the polygraph but only 54 of them were sent back to prison.

Behaviour and activities on release

Lie detector test questions are structured by polygraph examiners. They include queries related to the offender’s specific release conditions and whether they have adhered to the rules. Other questions are asked about their behaviour whilst on licence that may be considered “risk related”. Such behaviour might be masturbation whilst fantasising about the type of sexual offence they are prone to.

Those who are found to be lying are supposed to be returned to prison. However, a failed polygraph test alone is not sufficient under the government scheme to achieve this. The offender must also confess to breaking the conditions of the licence.

If no disclosure is forthcoming they may be subject to a curfew or given a formal warning. Only a confession can result in a recall to prison. However, a failed test can result in the offender being monitored more closely, investigated further and delay any future plans such as moving out of hostel accommodation.

Compulsory lie detector tests for serial sex offenders

Some 50 polygraph tests are compulsorily taken per month by serial sex offenders.

John Warboys, known as the black cab rapist, would have been subject to polygraph tests had the decision of the Parole Board been upheld to release him.  Recently, in a privately funded London High Court action two of his victims succeeded in overturning the Parole Board’s recommendation.

The conditions imposed on released sex offenders depend on the type of crime they have committed. They may include any or all of the following:

Curfews: Whereby they are not allowed to be out of their homes between certain set hours.

Exclusion zones: Areas, streets, buildings where they are banned from going.

Non-contact orders: Restrictions on contacting designated people.

Internet access: This can range from being banned from accessing certain websites or using the internet at all.

Sex offender programmes:  An obligation to attend sex offender programmes when required.

Serial sex offenders may also be prescribed drugs to supress their sex drive (libido).

Victims feel at risk

Victims quite understandably will be terrified that sexual predators who have failed the test are still on licence. It calls into question why polygraph tests are being used for sex offenders, if the results are ignored.  Survivors naturally feel incredibly insecure knowing their attackers are out of prison.

Of those, who have been returned to prison many were paedophiles or other child sex offence related criminals.