In the fight against sexual assault, many believe that polygraph testing is an essential tool for keeping society safe. The costs of these crimes are significant, both financially and in terms of the impact on victims. Due to certain behaviors exhibited by sex offenders, polygraph testing is particularly pertinent for this type of offender.

Polygraph Testing for Sex Offenders

Mandatory polygraph testing is set to be introduced in England and Wales early next year as part of the post-conviction supervision of the most serious sex offenders. Post-conviction sex offender polygraph testing has proven to be successful in breaking down denial and ensuring the offender accepts responsibility. This leads to admission of behaviours of concern, which otherwise would not have been known to probation officers and treatment providers.

Benefits of Polygraph Testing

Regular polygraph testing of sex offenders has shown to result in less re-offending. The knowledge of an impending polygraph test causes the offender to inhibit their behavior and report more information. Polygraph testing is an effective deterrent and should be considered as a tool to keep communities safe.

Characteristics of Sex Offenders

Sex offenders are often characterized by a strong need for power and control, significant planning and preparation of their crimes to prevent being caught, vehemently denying or minimizing their wrongdoing and denying facts, exonerating themselves of culpability for their actions, and denying the impact of the offense or harm caused to the victim. These behaviors implicitly give “permission” for re-offending to reoccur. Polygraph testing can help break down this denial and ensure the offender takes responsibility for their actions.


Polygraph testing is an effective tool in breaking down denial and ensuring the offender takes responsibility for their actions. With the significant costs of sexual assault to our communities, it is important to consider all tools available to keep our communities safe.

Polygraph testing of sex offenders has been used in Australia for a number of years, but its use is generally restricted to post-conviction supervision. The use of polygraph examinations in post-conviction supervision is seen as a key tool in ensuring sex offenders remain compliant with their conditions, including participation in treatment programs and not reoffending.

While the use of polygraph testing for sex offenders is not yet mandatory in Australia, it is used by a number of jurisdictions and probation and parole authorities. The Australian Polygraph Association (APA) has guidelines in place to ensure the ethical and professional use of polygraph testing in criminal justice and other contexts.

One of the benefits of polygraph testing for sex offenders is that it can encourage offenders to take responsibility for their actions and participate in treatment programs, which can in turn reduce the risk of reoffending. It can also provide a means of monitoring compliance with conditions of supervision, and identify potential areas of concern for further investigation or intervention.

However, the use of polygraph testing for sex offenders is not without controversy. Some critics argue that the reliability of polygraph testing is not sufficiently established, and that it can be used to exert undue pressure on offenders to make self-incriminating statements. There are also concerns around the potential for false positives, which could lead to unjustified restrictions on an offender’s freedom.

Overall, the use of polygraph testing for sex offenders in Australia remains a subject of debate and discussion. While there are clear benefits to its use, there are also valid concerns around its reliability and potential for misuse. As such, any decision to introduce mandatory polygraph testing for sex offenders in Australia would need to be made after careful consideration of the available evidence and ethical considerations.