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Could a lie detector test help victims of abuse?

Could a lie detector test help victims of abuse?

Friday 26th May 2023

Sexual assault is one of the most terrifying experiences that a person has to endure. It's not just the act itself, but having to live with the trauma for a lifetime. It isn't something that goes away and remains with all victims indefinitely. Some do get closure to a certain extent if the perpetrator is charged and justice is served. We would hope as a society that all survivors of this atrocity get justice and can try to move on; however, this is seldom the case.

Shocking Statistics

In the year ending September 2022, the highest number of rapes was recorded by police at a staggering 70,633. During this time, only 2616 people were charged with the offence. This is only the tip of the iceberg, as only 1 in 6 women and 1 in 5 men actually reported this. This indicates that the actual number of assaults committed is more like 388,461.

A poll completed by Rape Crisis England and Wales found that the main reason for not reporting the incident was embarrassment at 40%. As many as 34% of these survivors thought they would be humiliated; however, the worrying factor was that 38% did not feel they would be believed. This is where a lie detector test for sexual assault could help.

Lie Detector Tests for Sexual Predators

Police in the UK use mandatory lie detector tests on the release of sex offenders. Paedophiles and other sexual predators are obligated to complete this testing every six months as part of their release conditions.

An encouraging preliminary report by the Ministry of Justice confirmed that the University of Kent had been commissioned to conduct an experiment on how effective polygraph testing would be as part of probation orders. This trial involved 332 offenders receiving mandatory polygraph examinations and 303 who did not have the tests introduced into their licensing conditions.

The results revealed that more offender managers in the polygraph group than in the comparison group took pre-emptive measures to safeguard the public from harm, as opposed to sticking with the same supervision procedures. These instructions included:

  • Increasing supervision and controls (including recall to prison)
  • Informing a third party or authority
  • Changing supervision's focus
  • Issuing a warning to the offender

The analysis also demonstrated that polygraph testing enhanced the likelihood that a sexual offender under community supervision would volunteer information pertinent to their management, supervision, therapy, or risk assessment.

The government, following these results and those of others, rolled out the mandatory process nationwide in 2014 with probation officers undergoing extensive training to become polygraph examiners.

Reliability of Lie Detector Tests for Sexual Assault

If authorities now respect and believe the results of lie detector tests on sexual abusers, why would they not consider them proof for the victims that the assault took place? We receive many requests from victims of sexual assault trying to prove what happened to them, both presently and historically. This is one of the more sensitive subjects our services help with, and it is inconceivable to think that these brave individuals do not feel the authorities would trust their version of events, even when often supported with physical evidence. We provide a fully confidential and discreet service for these survivors regularly.

Can a Lie Detector Test be used evidentially in Court?

In England and Wales, lie detector tests are not frequently employed in courtrooms. Nevertheless, based on the type of court, they might be appropriate in particular situations. Polygraph tests are occasionally used in civil courts and tribunals to strengthen the testimony of either party rather than being used as evidence in and of themselves. Lie detector tests are not guaranteed to be accepted as supporting evidence or other types of evidence in criminal courts.

The forms of evidence that are accepted are typically up to the judges who are presiding over the court on that particular day. There is no assurance that polygraph tests will be permitted to be used in any particular trial, even if they can be a helpful addition to the already-present evidence. We always advise clients to check with thier lawyer to see if they feel it would be beneficial. However, for your reputation, it is always a good starting point for rebuilding trust in the relationships that may have suffered as a result.

How could a Lie Detector Test help Survivors?

When someone has already endured a traumatic event and considers a lie detector test for sexual assault their last chance to be believed, it is difficult for us to communicate that even though they have shown immense bravery, they cannot present the results to the authorities as evidence. However, this is not the only reason a lie detector test for sexual assault can be useful. Unfortunately, a lot of clients explain that they require the service not for evidence but in order to convince their loved ones or friends that what they are saying is accurate. They may have accused a relative or friend of a historical act that has gone unpunished, or even worse, they may have been accused of fabricating events to sever ties with their family. In either case, they are now forced to relive their trauma and request a lie detector test for sexual assault, while also being isolated and attempting to move on.

Abuse victims of any kind shouldn't ever feel they can't receive justice for what happened to them, and for some, the abuser is convicted. Most people find little solace in this, but it can give them some comfort to know that they may have stopped an assault on another individual. It should never be necessary for someone close to us to submit to a lie detector test for sexual assault in order to prove their claims, but the authorities should seriously think about making the test available to survivors if they would like the opportunity to take one. It ought to be taken into consideration in court—perhaps not as proof—but rather to reinforce someone's integrity and moral character. If this did not occur, then why would a victim offer to voluntarily take a lie detector test for sexual assault?

Could a Lie Detector Test for Sexual Assault help the Accused?

Sadly, there are some people with grudges—those who may have had a relationship fail and are angry. These types of liars are accusing for personal benefit, to cause widespread disapproval, or simply in retaliation; they could be family members or ex-partners who want to tarnish someone's reputation. It's possible that someone has been rejected and, rather than accepting it, lies and claims an assault occurred. It's possible that the ex-spouse feels aggrieved since the person has moved on and is in a new relationship. This type of corruption is abhorrent, and it should be punished in the same way as the crime it represents.

The Repercussions

Numerous people contact us to say that they have been falsely accused of acting inappropriately towards their siblings or young children. Aggrieved ex-partners do this in an effort to prevent them from seeing their children and make their lives more miserable, this is typically reported to social services and the police. The sad truth of this is they want to finish the accused's new relationship in the hope that their spouse will return to the family unit. This seldom happens, and many of these fabricators are unaware of the long-term harm they are doing. Reputations are tarnished, and the accused person can lose their employment or family ties. Even if unfounded, such claims can have long-lasting repercussions, particularly if they allege sexual abuse or violence. Rumours are just as devastating, and this can be a huge and problematic obstacle whenever someone wants to try to move on with their life, apply for a new job or settle down with someone new. It is also not unusual for people who have been falsely accused of something such as paedophilia to commit suicide. 

How can we help you

We can assist if you require a lie detector test for sexual assault, regardless of your reason for getting in touch with us. If you're trying to demonstrate that something happened to you, either in the past or the present, we will help you find the peace of mind you've been looking for. We can assist if you need to establish your innocence after being wrongly accused. Please call 0800 774 7268 to reach our committed customer care team, or visit us online.

The most frequently asked questions we receive from clients are answered in this FAQ; however, we are always ready to address any further questions you may have.