The Sunday Times recently highlighted a significant development in the criminal justice system, an issue that we previously covered in a blog post – the monitoring of convicted sex offenders via Post Conviction Sex Offender Testing (PCSOT). Initially developed in America, PCSOT has been successfully employed for nearly two decades to monitor and reduce reoffending by convicted sex offenders released from prison early on licence.
When an offender is considered for early release or ‘parole’, the offender undergoes an assessment for suitability. If the assessment supports the application, the Parole Board takes it into consideration. In the case of convicted sex offenders, the Parole Board now has the legal authority to impose restrictions and conditions on the licence. Such conditions typically include stipulations regarding the offender’s place of residence while on licence, mandatory supervision meetings with the National Offender Management Service (formerly known as the Probation Service), and a requirement to undertake regular polygraph examinations.
The licence remains active until the offender’s original court-sentenced term of imprisonment release date. The Sunday Times article focused on the efforts of the Greater Manchester Police, a force known for its innovative approaches in all aspects of crime detection and prevention. The report underscores the challenges faced by the force, with the number of offenders under their supervision rising by 10% each year, currently standing at 3,500. National guidelines on offender management recommend that the number of offenders managed by their specialist officers should be 50, but it is currently at 65 per officer.
Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Jude Holmes leads Greater Manchester Police’s dedicated team. She confirms the value of the polygraph in managing offenders, noting how it helps identify those who may require more focused attention, thereby saving resources and potentially safeguarding future victims.
An ex-convict interviewed during the Granada programmes’ visit to a specialist unit described the tests as “necessary” to “prove you are not doing anything to harm anybody”. This sentiment was echoed in an American interview with a similar ex-offender, who admitted that the fear of failing a polygraph test and being returned to prison effectively deterred him from reoffending. His sobering revelation was that prior to his initial arrest and conviction, he offended “at least once a day, except for Sundays when I would go to Church”.
By implication, the polygraph had potentially safeguarded over 300 victims from this one offender in just one year. There is arguably no greater duty than protecting our children from abuse, whether that abuse occurs in person or online. The dedicated specialist officers in Greater Manchester Police, despite an ever-increasing workload, are doing commendable work in this regard. As a polygraph examiner, it is heartening to witness the significant role that the polygraph plays in this critical endeavor.