Allow polygraph testing within family court cases involving child abuse allegations

Allow polygraph testing within family court cases involving child abuse allegations

23 October 2019
Petition to
Family Justice Council (The Royal Courts of Justice) and 1 other
Signatures: 881Next Goal: 1,000
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Why this petition matters

Started by Samantha Baldwin

Too many catastrophic mistakes are being made by the family court. Polygraph testing for both parents would reduce the chances of innocent parents and children simply not being believed by the court.

Child abuse allegations are without doubt one of the most serious allegations to be made. However, the England and Wales Family Court have sanctioned the placement of many children in the most harmful of situations: being forced to live with the parent they alleged serious sexual/ physical/ emotional/ mental abuse against. 

Judges often ignore vital evidence, and innocent parents who brought the allegations of abuse against the other party find themselves with false allegations made against them.

Polygraph testing must be allowed in to family law litigation when it involves allegations of child abuse. If both parents had polygraph testing it could be looked at as part of the matrix of evidence. Already most police forces in England are using them in an opt-in programme for convicted paedophiles who have been released on probation. Their implementation has been hugely successful.

Similarly, polygraph testing is used in the USA. One recent example is the case of Chris Watts who was convicted for the murder of his two young daughters and pregnant wife in August 2018. He presented as a lovely, likeable, family man. The FBI conducted a polygraph test on him with a view to eliminate him from their enquiries. However he failed and was later found guilty of the murders. This demonstrates just how effective polygraph tests are and how they can be applied to assist in cases where a serious crime is alleged to have occurred.

The Ministry of Justice claims that polygraph testing have an accuracy rate of 89%, yet they are completely ignored with Family Court cases, which instead use the ‘balance of probabilities’ threshold for the judge to decide whether they believe something has or has not happened. Expressed as a percentage, this means that the judge can make findings based on a perceived accuracy rate of just 51%.

Professor of forensic psychiatry, Don Grubin states that "If the examiner is well-trained, if the test is properly carried out, and if there's proper quality controls, the accuracy is estimated between 80%-90%" adding that “this is higher than the average person's ability to tell if someone is lying.”

The use of polygraph testing within the family courts would undoubtedly assist the judge in deciding whether someone is lying. Judges are not immune from making mistakes. Mistakes which can result in catastrophic consequences. Let's ensure the test is higher than the judge’s opinion alone, especially where children’s lives are at stake. 

You are therefore urged to sign this petition to allow the use of polygraph tests in family courts.

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Signatures: 881Next Goal: 1,000
Support now


  • Family Justice CouncilThe Royal Courts of Justice
  • Ministry of JusticeRobert Buckland QC Secretary of State for Justice