The polygraph technique, commonly known as lie detector testing, is highly accurate.

Research has shown that the accuracy of the latest computerised polygraph testing techniques is 98% (see below for further information).

There are several key qualities that are important in order to achieve this level of accuracy. That is why all polygraph examiners working for our nationwide polygraph testing clinics adhere to the following criteria:

  1. Each examiner must be fully qualified, having gained their qualification from facilities accredited by the British and European Polygraph Association and/or the American Polygraph Association.
  2. The examiner must use the latest techniques and methods.
  3. The examiner must use the latest computerised equipment.
  4. Each examiner must be a current member of the British and European Polygraph Association and/or the American Polygraph Association, which is the largest Association of polygraph examiners in the world
  5. Each examiner must undertake continual professional development courses on a regular basis.
  6. Each examiner must submit work for quality checks as part of a commitment to maintaining the highest standards of testing possible.

How to use a Polygraph Result

Polygraph exams are trusted tools used worldwide; by law enforcement agencies to monitor sex offenders; by government departments focussing on security and anti – terrorism; by corporations investigating crimes against the company and also by private individuals.

In the United States, polygraph evidence is used in courts in some states and is also used in conducting police investigations.

The UK regulation of the use of polygraphs varies depending on the context. In the criminal justice system, polygraph (lie detector)tests are not admissible as evidence. However, such tests have been piloted and continued to be used in the UK for the management of sex offenders. Their use for such purposes is regulated by the Polygraph Rules 2009. Under these rules, the Secretary of State can require certain offenders released on licence to undergo polygraph testing to monitor compliance with the terms of a licence and to improve offender management.

In the UK, polygraph (lie detector) testing is increasingly used outside of the courts system by employers and private individuals. Polygraph results commonly known as lie detector results, can be admissible in some tribunal and civil cases, but their introduction into criminal courts would require legislation.

It is important to understand that the polygraph exam should be used as an analytical tool, along- side other avenues of investigation. The result should not be used in isolation but instead reviewed in conjunction with other evidence collected in a case.

Polygraph Research

The American Polygraph Association (APA), the largest Association of polygraph examiners in the world, believes that scientific evidence supports the validity of polygraph examinations that are conducted and interpreted in compliance with documented and validated procedure.

Recent research reveals that the accuracy of the new computerised polygraph system is close to 100%. 

In the past 75 years, over 250 studies have been conducted on the validity, accuracy and reliability of polygraph testing (American Polygraph Association 1996 Polygraph Issues & Answers).

Based on twelve separate studies involving 2,174 real cases since 1980, evidence suggests that qualified field polygraph examiners are 98% accurate in their overall decisions (Ansley, N. 1990 The validity and reliability of polygraph decisions in real cases).

Published Literature for Further Reading

Ansley, N. (1990). The validity and reliability of polygraph decisions in real cases.

Bersh, P. J. (1969). Journal of Applied Psychology, 53(5), 399-403. The lie detection judgments of polygraph examiners in criminal investigations conducted by the military services.

Patrick, C. J., & Iacono, W. G. (1991). Journal of Applied Psychology, 76(2), 229-238. Records from independent police files for 402 control question test (CQTs) conducted during a 5-year period by federal police examiners in a major Canadian city, the hit rate for identifying guilty subjects was 98%. 

Honts, C. R. (1996). The Journal of General Psychology, 123(4), 309-324. Data from the files of 41 criminal cases were examined for confirming information and were rated by two evaluators on the strength of the confirming information. The decision of the original examiners were correct 96% of the time, and the independent evaluations were 93% correct. 

Raskin, D. C., Kircher, J. C., Honts, C. R., & Horowitz, S. W. (1988). Report to the National Institute of Justice.

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