Would I lie to you? Detectors used on convicted offenders in the Boston area

THREE convicted sex offenders from North Sea Camp Open Prison have taken a lie detector test as part of a national pilot.

The figure was released following a Freedom of Information request by The Standard into the three-year-long pilot by the Lincolnshire Probation Trust.

During the pilot scheme on sex offenders, which ran from April 2009-October 2011, 49 polygraph tests were carried out on 31 offenders in Lincolnshire.

Although there is no breakdown of figures for individual towns, the trust was able to tell us that three offenders at North Sea Camp Open Prison, in Freiston Shore, were tested.

As a whole, the pilot study found that offenders were twice as likely to give ‘clinically significant disclosures’ (CSDs) to probation staff – such as admitting to contacting a victim or entering an exclusion zone near a school.

However, a spokesman for the trust said the polygraph test pilot was not designed to record a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ but to evaluate the impact lie detectors had on the number and type of CSDs made by offenders.

“It is more an indication as to whether or not the offender is answering questions truthfully, thereby enabling probation staff to manage that case more effectively,” they said.

“The polygraph test highlights whether the supervising officer can believe the answers being given, or whether certain areas need to be investigated in more depth.”

Examples of questions asked include: ‘Other than what you have told me about, since you release from prison, have you entered into your exclusion zones for any reason?’ and ‘since your last test, have you viewed any pornography on the internet?’.

“It would be possible to ask, for example, of an offender convicted of rape, if since his last test/release from prison he had sexual thoughts about forcing a sexual act on someone,” said the trust’s spokesman.

“Any offender failing the test would have been asked to explain the result.

“The resultant action will have depended on their answer. For example, if the offender admitted to breaching a licence condition, he may have been recalled to prison.”

The trust said the polygraph tests were in addition to ‘rigorous conditions’ that sex offenders face once they have served their prison sentences.

Adding: “In the main, they were designed to test whether or not the offender was complying with the terms of his/her licence or to an agreed part of his/her supervision plan.”

If legislation is passed by Government, serious sex offenders on licence will be tested with lie detectors from 2013/14.