‘Make freed sex abusers undergo lie detector test’
SCOTLAND’S most dangerous sex offenders should undergo lie detector tests after their release from prison, like their counterparts south of the Border, according to campaigners.
They say Scotland is lagging behind England and Wales, where more than 160 rapists and paedophiles have been returned to prison since regular polygraph sessions were introduced in 2014.
It is understood Police Scotland is keen on compulsory tests. Currently, offenders can simply refuse to co-operate.
Now supporters of the tests are calling on Justice Secretary Michael Matheson to catch up with the rest of the UK.
Margaret-Ann Cummings, whose eightyear-old son Mark was killed by a convicted paedophile in Glasgow in 2004, said: ‘Sex offenders are the most devious of all criminals and can be cunning in the way they deceive officials who have the difficult job of assessing their risk level and monitoring what they get up to.
‘So a lie detector really is a valuable tool for the authorities to have at their disposal. Down south, they’ve found it produces positive results – so there is no excuse for the law to be slacker in Scotland than in England.
‘We’ve seen how many sex offenders will go to extraordinary lengths to commit more crimes. It’s entirely possible some of those living close to the Border could choose to move to Scotland to avoid stricter controls.’
Following successful trials in the Midlands, the UK Government changed the law in 2013, allowing for registered sex offenders (RSOs) in England and Wales to face tests as part of their licence conditions on leaving jail.
As this is a devolved matter, it would require SNP Ministers to introduce similar legislation to cover Scotland.
South of the Border, specially trained probation officers use the devices as part of mandatory licence conditions. RSOs who refuse to co-operate in the three-hour biannual tests can be returned to jail.
Around 700 are subject to regular tests and 166 have been returned to jail.
Professor Don Grubin of Newcastle University, who conducted the English polygraph trials, said: ‘We understood Scotland was holding back to see the outcome of them. As it happened, they were very successful and, as a result, mandatory testing was introduced in England and Wales. But in Scotland, no further action was taken.
‘Does this mean Scotland does not have as rigorous an offender management system as it might have? That is my view.’
A Scottish Government spokesman said: ‘We are always interested in considering how developing technologies might support Scotland’s system of justice and public safety.
‘We are aware of the pilot of polygraph-testing taking place in a small number of English police force areas and will consider the results of the evaluation into its effectiveness when that is available.’
Detective Superintendent Gail Johnston, of Police Scotland’s National Offender Management Unit, said: ‘We are watching with interest and will await the outcome of the planned evaluation of the pilots.’
Scotland has 4,089 RSOs living in the community, nearly 300 of them judged to be high or very high risk.
‘They are the most devious of all criminals’