A convicted terrorist has been sent back to jail after failing a lie detector test – one of the first carried out under new powers.
Polygraph tests have been imposed on terrorists for the first time after the law changed in June last year.
The groundbreaking checks have already been used in 14 cases – and led to one terrorist being sent back to jail.
Specially trained Ministry of Justice officials carry out the tests on convicted terrorists as part of Parole Board conditions.
A source said: ‘Since June 2021, 14 terrorists have undergone examinations and they have already provided valuable information that we would otherwise not have had.
‘In one instance, this has led to the recall of an offender for breaching their licence conditions.
‘We should stress that there is no evidence this person has committed a further offence or was actively pursuing a terrorist act.’
The identity of this criminal was not disclosed.
The rollout comes after terrorist Usman Khan convinced supervisors he was a reformed man before stabbing Cambridge graduates Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt to death at Fishmongers’ Hall in London in 2019.
One probation officer involved in the programme said: ‘We are already seeing the value of it.’
Terrorists released on licence are not allowed to contact accomplices or others with terror convictions.
They are often prevented from visiting certain places – which can be enforced with electronic tags.
They also face restrictions on internet access and phone use. Offenders face a return to prison if they breach licence conditions.
In polygraph tests they may be asked simple ‘yes or no’ questions such as: ‘Have you entered an exclusion zone?’, ‘Have you taken any actions to conceal your internet use?’ or ‘Have you contacted a member of a proscribed organisation?’
They could also be asked whether they have access to undisclosed bank accounts.
‘We review all the questions in advance and the offender knows exactly what they are going to be answering. It’s not like you see on TV,’ a polygraph examiner said.
‘In the testing room we create a sense of pressure and a sense of stress.
‘Creating this sense of theatre about it does put people under pressure to disclose.’
The source said: ‘The consequences for these offenders failing a polygraph test are significant.
‘Some of these people come out on licences that are ten or 12 years long.
‘They could go back to prison for a very long period of time.’
Deliberately trying to cheat, or refusing to take part, would count as a breach of their licence conditions and would almost certainly see the offender back behind bars.
The Probation Service requests polygraph testing on all eligible terrorist offenders up for parole.
They take tests within three months of release, and further testing takes place ‘as required’, a source said.
Sam Armstrong, of counter-terror think-tank the Henry Jackson Society, said: ‘The Government needs to roll these out for all terror offenders including those released on licence before the law came into effect.’
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: ‘This technology is helping us to protect the public better.’
Polygraphs have been used on sex offenders since 2009.