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An Evaluation of Mandatory Polygraph Testing for Sexual Offenders in the United Kingdom

Gannon, Theresa A., Wood, Jane L., Pina, Afroditi, Tyler, Nichola, Barnoux, Magali F.L., Vasquez, Eduardo A. (2014) An Evaluation of Mandatory Polygraph Testing for Sexual Offenders in the United Kingdom. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 26 (2). pp. 178-203. ISSN 1079-0632. E-ISSN 1573-286X. (doi:10.1177/1079063213486836) (KAR id:53579)

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Objective: This research examined whether a government-initiated pilot project of mandatory polygraph testing would increase the disclosures made by community-supervised sexual offenders in the UK. Method: The Offender Managers of 332 pilot polygraph sexual offenders and 303 sexual offenders who were receiving usual community supervision were telephoned quarterly, over a 21 month period, to collect information about numbers of clinically relevant disclosures, the seriousness of disclosures made, and actions taken as a result of disclosures. Perceptions of polygraph usefulness were also collected. Results: Offender Managers in the pilot polygraph group—compared to comparison Offender Managers—reported (1) a higher proportion of offenders making at least one disclosure (i.e., 76.5% versus 51.2% respectively), and (2) that their offenders made more total disclosures overall (Ms = 2.60 versus 1.25 respectively). The majority of disclosures made by sexual offenders in the polygraph group were associated with the polygraph session itself. Polygraph Offender Managers reported being more likely to take an action that involved increasing supervision, informing a third party, informing MAPPA, changing supervision focus, or issuing a warning to the offender. However, the relative seriousness of disclosures did not appear to differ across groups. In terms of polygraph test results, one third of offenders (most notably those who were higher in risk) failed their first test with ‘Deception Indicated’. This outcome—received on a first test—was most likely to elicit clinically relevant disclosures. Offender Managers described the polygraph as aiding supervision strategies. Conclusions: This research and its associated caveats are discussed.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/1079063213486836
Uncontrolled keywords: community reintegration; polygraph; sexual abuse
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Theresa Gannon
Date Deposited: 04 Jan 2016 14:15 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2022 11:00 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Gannon, Theresa A.:
Wood, Jane L.:
Pina, Afroditi:
Barnoux, Magali F.L.:
Vasquez, Eduardo A.:
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