‘Make freed sex abusers un­dergo lie de­tec­tor test’

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Mark Howarth

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’

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