UK Police Polygraph
UK Police Polygraph
An interesting blog here from a UK Police Officer who works with Polygraph, now there is around 60 such officers working in the UK.
As many of you may know, the use of polygraph is a relatively new concept to law enforcement in the United Kingdom. Its introduction resulted from 20 years of determined work by Don Grubin (Professor of Forensic Psychiatry at Newcastle University). Professor Grubin’s focus throughout this time was to establish whether polygraph tests could be used by Probation and the Police to support the management of sex offenders in the community.
After a previous trial of voluntary testing, in 2008 a 3-year study commenced with UK Probation evaluating the mandatory use of polygraph on high-risk sex offenders following their release from custody. The study demonstrated conclusively that polygraph testing helped managers evaluate the risk posed by offenders, thus protecting the public from harm. In 2013 a legislative change made it possible for high risk sex offenders on parole in England and Wales to be required to undergo mandatory polygraph testing. However, at the time there were no trained polygraph examiners in either the Police or Probation Service to conduct these examinations! At the same time using an American APA examiner Hertfordshire Police carried out a small-scale trial under the watchful gaze of Professor Grubin that involved the testing of men arrested for downloading indecent images from the internet. The trial was also successful, gaining new disclosures which assisted risk management decisions. Hertfordshire Police along with South Yorkshire Police then put funding in place to train two polygraph examiners each, a first for UK policing.
What even was a polygraph? How could it be useful? Does it really work and how accurate is it? What’s the science behind it? How would I find conducting an interview outside the boundaries of PACE (UK legislation that governs police interviews)? The excitement of pioneering something so new and innovative ensured I put my all into the interview board, presentation, and selection process.
To my delight I was successful and was offered the incredible opportunity to attend the first APA accredited polygraph school in the UK, run by Behavioural Measures UK (BMUK) at Bramshill, Senior Leaders, Police Training College in Hampshire. So, in May 2014 I packed my bags, kissed goodbye to my children (aged just 2 and 7 at the time) and headed off for 10 weeks. The first morning came around and I remember feeling excited, but nervous and wondering exactly why there was a video camera in the corner of the room recording everything! The three other detectives, seven probation officers and two retired police officers all introduced themselves. It’s fair to say our expectations of an easy time were quickly dispelled – this wasn’t going to be a walk in the park! Unbeknownst to us at the time, we were being taught by some of the most experienced polygraphers in the world.
Donnie Dutton ran the course and stayed in the UK for 8 weeks. I’m not sure how he survived trying to teach us probable lie comparison questions! He went above and beyond and even said hello to my boys via Facetime in the evenings! Professor Grubin’s week of physiology was overwhelmingly impressive, Pam Shaw, taught us at week 7 by which stage we were all so confused that I’m surprised we managed to engage in conversation. When Mike Gougler put his son’s CD on at the beginning of the lesson no one knew what was coming next, and Tom Morgan with his down to earth approach assisted with our practical examinations proving this theory works! After 10 mind blowing weeks, we all graduated, and I think it would be fair to say left questioning how we would put our polygraph training and the principles into managing pre and post conviction sex offenders in the UK.
The probation polygraph testing would be mandatory, but for the police voluntary. At that point I had no idea how I would get post convicted sex offenders to take a test, but I was looking forward to trying! Fast forward eight years and the UK PCSOT program now has 47 examiners in police and probation whom have conducted over ten thousand examinations. BMUK has grown adding more established names in the polygraph world to provide the police and probation with training, quality control and quality assurance, including Don Krapohl and Brett Stern. With Don Krapohl’s knowledge and passion for polygraph research the UK program has developed the BOST technique, a single issue screening examination. Again, with Don Krapohl’s academic experience the program has also contributed into research to determine response onset windows.