The Bill will introduce a provision that enables the Secretary of State to add polygraph testing as a licence condition for individuals subject to service law convicted of sexual offences or domestic abuse offences who meet the eligibility criteria.
Service offences are ‘copies’ of all generally applicable English and Welsh offences that apply to members of the armed forces by virtue of section 42 of the Armed Forces Act 2006 (and its predecessors). This provides that a person subject to service law commits an offence if they do an act contrary to the criminal law of England and Wales. Those ‘copy’ offences follow the service route for trial, conviction and sentencing, but the service persons are in general treated in the same way as the underlying English and Welsh offences for the purposes of release under Chapter 6 of Part 12 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 (via section 237(1B)) or for indeterminate sentenced prisoners under Part 2 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997.
This means there is potential for service offenders convicted of sexual or domestic abuse ‘copy’ offences to be managed by probation upon release from custody on licence. The current law does not permit imposition of polygraph conditions on them as part of their licence. By contrast, provisions in the Counter-Terrorism and Sentencing Act allow for use of polygraph testing with those convicted under service law. Polygraph examinations are used to monitor compliance with licence conditions and the information obtained during testing is used by Offender Managers to refine and improve risk management plans. Without this clause, sexual or domestic abuse offenders who are subject to licence but sentenced through channels other than magistrates’ or the Crown Court in England & Wales would be excluded from polygraph examinations despite meeting the eligibility criteria.
This Clause will ensure that the management of those offenders will benefit from the polygraph and will put beyond all doubt who should be made subject to testing. As mentioned, it will also make the testing of sexual and domestic abuse offenders consistent with the legislation that applies to terrorist offenders.