POLICE are to consider whether lie detector tests could be introduced for the first time in Scotland to tackle reoffending.
Officers are to visit pilot programmes in England which are using polygraph technology on convicted sex offenders.
The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS) said it has been watching the pilots “with interest”, despite the “challenges” such a scheme would need to overcome.
Scottish Government officials said there were no plans to allow the technology to be used in evidence in courtrooms and they were only looking at experiments in England in the context of managing sex offenders.
ACPOS’s comments emerged after video footage was posted of convicted killer Luke Mitchell taking a lie detector test to answer questions about the murder of his 14-year-old girlfriend Jodi Jones in June 2003.
That interview is believed to be the first footage broadcast of an inmate taking a lie-detector test in a British prison.
Chief Superintendent Roddy Ross, head of offender management for ACPOS, said: “We have been aware for some time of how police in England are working with the Probation Service to use polygraphs to support the management of sex offenders. ACPOS has been watching the pilots with interest and will consider whether there is merit in introducing such techniques in Scotland.
“Although there are clearly many challenges to overcome before such a scheme could be introduced, we remain open to new ideas.
“In the meantime, members of the ACPOS offender management group plan to visit one of the pilot sites to learn about the work being done.”
An ACPOS spokesman said that there was no specific group tasked with examining or introducing lie detectors. The tests work by monitoring a person’s physiological reactions, such as their heart rate, blood pressure and respiratory rates, while they answer a series of questions.
Trials with the technology have been underway in recent years in England and are well-established in the United States, but remain inadmissible in court in Scotland.
Pilot schemes in Hertfordshire saw 30 offenders given the tests, making twice as many admissions to breaches of probation compared to when they were questioned without the machines. Another trial targeted sex offenders across an area of the Midlands.
Detective Chief Inspector Glen Channer, head of Hertfordshire Police’s child protection unit, said: “While polygraph testing is in no way a single solution, we have found the results so far to be very successful.”
The Scottish Government said there were no plans to use polygraphs in court, but that it could be considered for managing sex offenders.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is always interested in monitoring the development of new technologies to see whether they have a role to play in assisting in the delivery of a modern and efficient justice system in Scotland and we will watch developments down south with interest. Public protection is our top priority.”