The Sunday Times recently reported on a matter I have raised in a blog some months ago, the monitoring of convicted sex offenders. The process is referred to as Post Conviction Sex Offender Testing or PCSOT for short and was originally developed in America where it has been successfully used for nearly 20 years to monitor and reduce the reoffending by convicted sex offenders when they are released from prison early on “Licence”.
When an offender is released early on “Parole” the offender is firstly assessed for suitability for parole and if the application is supported by the assessment, then the Parole Board considers the application. Where the application is made by a convicted sex offender, the Parole Board now have the legal power to place restrictions and conditions on the licence. The conditions will usually include such limitations as dictating the place of abode whilst on licence, attending supervision meetings with the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) formerly known as the Probation Service and also the requirement to undertake Polygraph examinations on a regular basis.
The “Licence” will remain active until the offenders original court sentenced term of imprisonment release date. The Sunday Times article focuses on the work of Greater Manchester Police who have lead the way in many developments in the Police Service in all aspects of crime detection and prevention. In the report the police state that the number of offenders they are supervising is rising 10% each year and currently stands at 3500. National guidelines on offender management state that the number of offenders managed by their specialist officers should be 50. They are currently managing 65 for each officer.
Greater Manchester Police have an excellent dedicated team headed by DCI Jude Holmes. In the article she is recorded supporting the polygraph as part of the offender management. She highlights how this offender group will lie to the specialist officers but the polygraph assists them in identifying offenders who are or may require further focused attention, saving both resource time and by implication, safeguarding potential future victims.
An ex-convict present during the Granada programmes visit to a specialist unit said the tests were “necessary” to “prove you are not doing anything to harm anybody”. When I attended my PCSOT training some years ago, I recall watching a video of an interview in America with a similar ex-offender. In that interview he stated that the fear of failing a polygraph test and then being returned to prison had been totally effective in stopping him reoffending. When he was asked how often he had offended prior to his initial arrest and conviction, he calmly said. “at least once a day, except for Sundays when I would go to Church”.
The reality of that statement was that the polygraph had potentially protected over 300 victims from one offender in one year. There can be no more important duty that anyone can perform, than protecting our children from being abused be that abuse in person or online. These specialist officers in Greater Manchester Police, who work under an ever increasing work load, deserve our thanks and support. As an examiner it makes me feel proud that the polygraph plays a significant role.