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Lie detectors dropped claims No 10

5 June 2009

Benefits and work can exclusively reveal that, according to No 10 Downing Street, plans to install lie detectors in Jobcentres across the UK have been dropped.

Lie detector chartTwo weeks ago we submitted a petition to the No 10 Downing Street website asking for the same lie detectors installed in Jobcentre Plus offices to be also installed in the Fees Office at the House of Commons.

Today we finally received an email from the No 10 website rejecting our petition on the grounds that it contained ‘Potentially libellous, false, or defamatory statements’.  The email went on to state that:

‘Following a trial in Nottinghamshire,  there are currently no plans to use lie detector technology in Job Centres.’

As reported by Benefits and Work in February 2008, trials of lie detectors went live on 28 January in the Lincoln Contact Centre and five Jobcentres in the Nottinghamshire district.  However, no official announcement was ever made of the results of those trials.  If plans to roll out lie detectors have been shelved, it has been done very quietly indeed.

Meanwhile, local authorities such as Harrow and Birmingham have installed lie detectors on phone lines for claimants  and are continuing to use them.

This is in spite of a leading expert having recently claimed that Harrow Council staff might as well toss a coin to decide whether someone is lying. Professor Lacerda, a lecturer at Stockholm University, Sweden, who has been carrying out research into the accuracy of lie detectors told the Harrow Observer in April 2009:

"It's very dangerous. I personally think staff might as well flip a coin prior to the call and make a decision based on that. Because, quite frankly, believing in this is just as silly as believing in fairy tales."

Benefits and Work has now made Freedom of Information request for a copy of the results of the DWP lie detector trials.