Polygraph Tests - 215/20

Date Responded 18 February 2020

Provision of information held by Northumbria Police made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the 'Act')

As you may be aware the purpose of the Act is to allow a general right of access to information held at the time of a request, by a Public Authority (including the Police), subject to certain limitations and exemptions.

You asked:

  1. Please provide copies of any policies, processes or other documentation relating to the use of polygraph tests for offenders or suspects, or in relation to police investigations; If your force uses, or has used in the past, or plans to use, polygraph testing, please provide:
  2. Copies of any reports on, or evaluations of, such polygraph tests;
  3. The number of individuals evaluated by polygraph annually since 2012;
  4. The questions asked in the polygraph test;
  5. The polygraph test method(s) used and the use and content of the stimulation test(s);
  6. The type(s) of polygraph machine used and manufacturer(s);
  7. The qualifications held by the polygraph test operator(s);
  8. The percentage of individuals deemed to have failed the polygraph test, or assessed to have a borderline result, annually;
  9. The policy document governing subsequent decisions, interventions and/or consequences based on the results of a test.

In Response:

Following receipt of your request, searches were conducted with the Safeguarding Department of Northumbria Police. I can confirm that the information you have requested is held in part by Northumbria Police however cannot be disclosed for the following reasons.

The information requested, particularly at points 4 and 5 is not held in a format that allows its extraction within the permitted 18 hour threshold.  All polygraph examinations are bespoke to the individual and therefore questions asked differ from exam to exam.  To offer a response to these parts would entail in excess of 200 examinations being manually reviewed. This would far exceed 18 hours therefore Section 12 is relevant. This section does not oblige a public authority to comply with a request for information if the authority estimated that the cost of complying with the request would exceed the appropriate limit of 18 hours, equating to £450.00

You should consider this to be a refusal notice under Section 17 of the Act for your request.

You should note that had Section 12 not been fully applicable, other exemptions, namely Sections 30 & 31,  would have been applied to withhold at these points.

When applying Section 12 exemption our duty to assist under As part of your request would exceed the prescribed limit, as defined by the Act, there is no requirement for Northumbria Police to provide a response to the remaining parts of your request. However, in order to provide you with some assistance, under Section 16 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, an initial assessment of the information that may be provided within the time constraints would be questions 3, 6 & 7.

If this would be useful, you may wish to refine and resubmit your request accordingly.  However you should note that exemptions will be applied where relevant to any resubmission.

We hold no information at points 1,2 and 9 of this request as we hold no such documents, nor do we hold % information as at point 8. (to provide the raw data to allow you to calculate is likely to attract Section 12 refusal at this point )

For general information, the national policing position on the use of Polygraphs has been published as follows:


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