Polygraph and Electronic Monitoring
Cumbria Constabulary are highlighting their unseen police work to protect vulnerable people in the community. The focus of the ongoing Operation MOVIE 2 campaign has moved to the invaluable work of the Constabulary’s MOSOVO department.
MOSOVO – standing for Management of Sexual Offenders and Violent offenders – is a specialist department within the Public Protection Unit.
Comprised of police officers, detectives and police staff investigators, they are responsible for the robust and complex management of registered sex offenders (RSO) and violent offenders (VO) in the community. MOSOVO work closely with colleagues from the Probation Service and carry out a range of tasks in partnership to keep the public safe and manage the activity of offenders as they rehabilitate into society.
Michelle Skeer, the constabulary’s Chief Constable, is the National Police Chief’s Council lead for MOSOVO.
The force invests in advancements in technology to stay at the forefront of offender management. Reducing reoffending and keeping the community safe are top priorities for the force.
Legislation, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, licence conditions and multi-agency public protection arrangements provide the MOSOVO department with effective tools for offender management, tools which monitor all areas of a released offenders life.
Management and Monitoring tools:
- Offender managers – each offender is assigned a dedicated offender manager to ensure compliance to any requirements needing to be upheld by the offender
- Each offender is subject of a detailed and individual risk assessment
- Each offender has a detailed individual risk management plan
- RSOs are subject to notification requirements where certain information must be supplied to police.
- Polygraph testing is a tool used to interview registered sex offenders about areas of risk
- Electronic monitoring – software is installed on the computers, tablets and phones of eligible sex offenders
- Licence conditions are imposed by the parole board and probation service
- Court orders are obtained to prohibit risk related behaviours and activities
- Multi Agency Meetings are held under MAPPA to share information and manage risk.
This press release will focus on the management tools of Polygraph testing and electronic monitoring.
Each registered sex offender is allocated a dedicated Cumbria Police Offender Manager or OM. The OM is responsible for investigating and understanding all areas of the offender’s life, routine and attitudes via a nationally approved risk assessment process. This risk assessment is used to formulate a risk management plan.
A significant part of the information used to assess risk is obtained from talking to the offender.
It is the OM’s duty to test the information that the offender provides. OM’s are highly trained and skilled in investigation and interviewing. However, two tools that support the testing of the offender’s information are Polygraph Testing and electronic monitoring.
Having an in-house Polygraph team at Cumbria Constabulary provides a wide range of monitoring benefits, including accessibility for regular testing. Cumbria’s OM’s can request polygraph assessments to help determine the accuracy of what an offender is saying. The results support the creating of an appropriate risk management plan and allocation of resourcing levels.
Cumbria Constabulary brought inhouse, voluntary, polygraph testing in in 2020, as a tool to manage registered sex offenders.
The force invests substantially in technological advancement to stay at the forefront of managing offenders and policing. Extensive research was undertaken to bring this specialist equipment to the force. Cumbria Constabulary was the eighth force in the UK to bring in this technology.
The research was conducted by the Constabulary’s Chief Constable Michelle Skeer, National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for the Management of Sexual Offenders and Violent Offenders and funded by Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall.
A polygraph test is not a lie detector, it is a machine that measures ‘stress responses’ in the automatic nervous system. The effect of telling an untruth can be observed in changes in cardiovascular activity, movement, breathing, and perspiration.
Under UK law, all polygraph tests on registered sex offenders must be undertaken voluntarily.
During a polygraph examination, offender’s physical responses are recorded. The polygraph examiners are trained to read the reaction with certain reactions indicative of deception.
Cumbria Constabulary have two trained polygraph examiners. Both technicians had to undertake extensive training to operate the machinery and interpret the results. Studying is intensive. Trainers progress from months of studying to being observed when conducting test. Anything up to 80-100 tests can be observed before examiners undertake an exam and reading independently. This is to ensure accuracy and illustrates the professionalism with which each test is undertaken.
About 80% of polygraph tests completed on offenders in Cumbria have led to further disclosures of information useful to the management of the offender.
The result of the interview is formally reported to the OM for further investigation, and appropriate safeguarding action to be taken.
Chief Constable Michelle Skeer said:
“A polygraph test is a highly effective and innovative piece of technology that we are utilising in Cumbria.
“Having this equipment in Cumbria allows us to provide an additional layer of monitoring for RSO’s which further enables us to keep the community safe.”
Cumbria Constabulary have invested in monitoring software which can be installed on the computers, tablets and mobile phones of eligible sex offenders. This allows OM’s to check an offender’s internet search history to help identify risky behaviour or illegal activity.
Cumbria Constabulary uses monitoring software to assist in the management of offenders who are subject to court orders. The court order will specify that the offender is not allowed to possess an internet enabled device unless it is fitted with monitoring software by the MOSOVO team.
The software is extremely effective in picking up concerning internet searches or viewing of illegal images and is of significant benefit to Offender Managers in the management of their offenders.
Detective Inspector Martin Hodgson said:
“National guidelines advise that officers take an investigative approach underpinned by respectful scepticism in their management of offenders. We take this to heart; we treat every offender with dignity and respect, but it is essential that we test what they are telling us.
“Monitoring software provides a constant reminder to offenders to adhere to their conditions; encouraging them to avoid risky behaviour. It also provides officers with a true picture of an offenders behaviour, including confidence that the majority of our offenders are trying to rehabilitate themselves with our help.”
“When we see risky or illegal internet activity, we follow it up immediately: the offender will be visited, intelligence gathered and appropriate action taken, such as additional support or putting them before the courts for any breaches.”
To report information or concerns about an offender breaching their Notification Requirements or terms of releases please contact the police via the online reporting form www.cumbria.police.uk/reportit. You can also call 101. Always dial 999 in an emergency.
To report information completely anonymously, contact independent charity CrimeStoppers, on 0800 555 111.
If you are a victim of a sexual or violent offence the police would encourage you to report the offence so that safeguarding and support can be provided, and any crimes investigated. However, if you would like support without police involvement, please contact Victim Support on 0300 303 0157.
If you worried about your own inappropriate thoughts or behaviour towards children, support is available. Contact the Lucy Faithful Foundation on 0808 1000 900 or visit www.stopitnow.org.uk for more information and contact options.
If you are concerned about your violent behaviour contact Victim Support for a range of self-referral, free services who can provide appropriate support to stop offending behaviour.