South Yorkshire Police training to be polygraph examiners

South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright.
South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Shaun Wright.

Two South Yorkshire Police officers have begun training to become polygraph examiners to better understand and manage the risk posed by sex offenders.

DCs Andy Tinker and Richard Chambers started the 11-week course earlier this month, which is the first of its kind in British policing and is a new and innovative approach to tackle child abuse.

Polygraph testing will be used alongside existing measures to assess the risk posed by Registered Sex Offenders living in our communities where appropriate.

Detective Inspector Delphine Waring, from South Yorkshire Police, said: “There are many tactics we use to manage and identify sex offenders and polygraph testing is just one risk assessment tool we will use to protect the public.

“Managing sex offenders can often be challenging and we have to be innovative and creative in the approach we take. South Yorkshire Police strives to be at the forefront of policing and using this innovative and groundbreaking tool will assist in protecting people and keeping them safe from some of the most dangerous people in our communities.”

South Yorkshire is one of just two forces who are using the initiative to manage sex offenders. Hertfordshire Constabulary previously launched a pilot using the polygraph testing and is now training officers to become polygraph examiners.

The tests will be used by the probation service as a mandatory measure for sex offenders who are deemed to be a high risk of re offending.

South Yorkshire Police will offer the tests to anyone arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children and to convicted sex offenders who are managed solely by the police.

The results will not be given in court as part of a prosecution, but will help the police address the risk factor of sex offenders and those caught in possession of indecent images of children.

The initiative is being funded by South Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Shaun Wright, who said it would help protect vulnerable people and reduce the risks posed by potential offenders.

Commissioner Wright said: “I made plain in my Police and Crime Plan that protecting the most vulnerable people is society was one of my key priorities and this important initiative is further illustration of how I am trying to achieve that aim.

“The programme will reduce investigation costs and help us protect more vulnerable people as we come to understand the risks associated with some of this criminal behaviour.

“This is an excellent opportunity for officers to be proactive in their management of suspects on police bail and contribute to protecting and safeguarding more children at risk of sexual abuse.”

The polygraph training is led by Professor Don Grubin, a leading polygraph expert. He holds the Chair in Forensic Psychiatry at Newcastle University and is an honorary consultant forensic psychiatrist in Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust.

He has been working closely with Hertfordshire Constabulary for a number of years to explore new ways to manage the risk posed by sex offenders, in particular offenders who have been arrested for possession of indecent images of children.

The results of the initial work* in Hertfordshire showed that Polygraph Testing, when used as part of the investigative process, yielded significant amounts of new information and a better understanding of the risk posed by these offenders.

In some instances offenders were referred to further specialist services for treatment but in others further investigations were triggered.