Lie detectors for terrorists: Jailed jihadis will have to take polygraph test4 min read

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Lie detectors for terrorists: Jailed jihadis will have to take polygraph test to prove they are no longer a danger before being released from prison as part of new crackdown after London Bridge attack

  • Extremists will be hooked up to polygraph machines and quizzed about activities
  • It is part of a multi-million pound crackdown on terrorism promised by ministers 
  • The overhaul means the most dangerous terrorists will serve at least 14 years

Terrorists will be forced to take lie detector tests after leaving prison to prevent them from carrying out fresh attacks.

The most dangerous extremists will be hooked up to polygraph machines and quizzed about their activities and intentions to help find out if they are plotting new crimes.

The measure is part of a multi-million pound crackdown on terrorism promised by ministers after the atrocity at Fishmongers’ Hall in London in November.

Usman Khan, a jihadist previously convicted of a plot to blow up the Stock Exchange, was left free to kill two victims in a knife rampage at a prisoner rehabilitation conference after leaving jail.

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The major overhaul, unveiled yesterday by the Home Office and Ministry of Justice, also means the most dangerous terrorists, including those who plot or train for attacks, will serve at least 14 years behind bars. 

Terrorists serving shorter sentences will no longer be eligible for early release, and the plans will bring in tougher supervision of those released into the community, such as tighter curbs on phone and computer use.

Usman Khan, a jihadist previously convicted of a plot to blow up the Stock Exchange, was left free to kill two victims in a knife rampage at a prisoner rehabilitation conference after leaving jail

Usman Khan, a jihadist previously convicted of a plot to blow up the Stock Exchange, was left free to kill two victims in a knife rampage at a prisoner rehabilitation conference after leaving jail

Under the plans, the number of specialist counter-terrorism probation officers will be more than doubled from 60 to 135.

And there will be a £90million boost for counter-terror police – raising total funding to £906million – in 2020-21, as well as an extra £500million to help victims of terrorism.

The flagship Counter Terrorism (Sentencing and Release) Bill also includes a sweeping review, led by the terror laws watchdog, of the way police, probation and security services monitor and manage terrorists. Under the plans to deploy lie detectors, terrorists will be attached to monitors and quizzed to find out if they have broken strict parole conditions, such as whether they have entered an exclusion zone or been in contact with other known extremists.

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Culprits could be sent back to prison if the £4,000 machines uncover fresh evidence that they have re-offended. Around 70 terrorists are currently released on licence.

The tests have been used by the Ministry of Justice since 2014 to quiz serious sex offenders after they are freed – resulting in more than 160 being sent back to prison.

But the tests could prove controversial, as some experts suggest cunning offenders can deceive the machines.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the Government would ‘do whatever is necessary to stop these sickening attacks from taking place’.

She said: ‘The senseless terror attack at Fishmongers’ Hall confronted us with some hard truths about how we deal with terrorist offenders.

‘Today we are… giving police and probation officers the resources they need to investigate and track offenders, introducing tougher sentences and launching major reviews into how offenders are managed after they are released.’

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: ‘Terrorists pose a great risk to our society and our way of life, which is why we must bring them to justice and keep the public safe.’

Security expert Professor Anthony Glees, of Buckingham University, said: ‘I think this is a major step forward.

‘Anything that makes people think twice about trying to hoodwink probation officers is worth the investment. This package of measures is extremely tough but is proportionate to the threats we have seen recently.’

But Professor David Canter, of Liverpool University, warned polygraph tests should be treated with caution, saying: ‘They can be defeated and in this country they are not allowed in courts as evidence.’

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