It is no accident that I used the word polygraph professional instead of polygraph examiners in the headline. Polygraph examinations are becoming increasingly popular as an effective tool in investigations and as part of a robust pre-employment screening system. Unfortunately, due to the great success, there is great demand, and where there is great demand, there is cheap imitation products.
As Charles L. Yeschke put it in his paper he wrote in 1965; Ethics and the Polygraph Examiner: “Every profession, including law and medicine, has historically gone through a transition period of development similar to that which the detection of deception profession is now experiencing. It seems that there is an area of development faced by each profession wherein society tends to question its members regarding qualifications and so forth. The detection of deception profession is no exception to the rule in this matter for it is now under investigation by even the United States Government's committees. States have passed laws for and against the use of tests to detect deception. The public now realizes that it takes a great deal of education and training to develop a professional person who is capable of rendering service to the public with the use of the polygraph (lie-detector) examination.”
Fast forward 52 odd years to modern day South Africa and we are finding ourselves in an increasingly similar situation. Unfortunately, we are still getting to the part where proper legislation is instituted to regulate the use of polygraph examinations in the country, and the result is a flood of unqualified, ill-equipped “lie detection experts” that could cost you, your company and the company employees dearly.
One of the most important factors that should be considered in selecting a polygraph examiner is the realization that the examination results can have lasting effects on the persons being tested. There is a popular line amongst polygraph professionals: “I have done thousands of examinations, but this examination is probably their first, and probably the most important one that they will ever experience.”
Secondly, the cost of a poorly conducted polygraph examination can reverberate through an entire company and the company’s future. That might sound dramatic, but keep in mind a false result on a polygraph could send an investigating team down a very slippery slope, wasting valuable time and resources, not to mention the possibility of back-pay once it goes through the legal motions.
The biggest financial loss though can inflict its dormant devastation after the investigation is complete. Once that case goes to CCMA and is appealed at some level or another, it is likely that the quality of the examination could be brought under the microscope.
Now with an increasing number of polygraph examiners willing to testify as expert witnesses (or simply considering that an increasing number of legal experts are educating themselves regarding the use of polygraph examinations), the weight of the polygraph examinations as part of a bundle of evidence is not even worth a fraction of the ‘bulk special price’ you paid. The question is, how much would it be worth if the company is sued for not doing the proper due diligence when selecting the examiner?
The bottom-line? The consequences of polygraph examinations are simply too significant to be entrusted to cheap knock-offs and bulk deals.
The fact is that even under the best of circumstance a polygraph examination has an inherent probability of error. Using qualified and professional polygraph examiners can decrease the likelihood of those errors significantly and can assist your business to maximize the effectiveness of a polygraph examination in your investigation or as part of your bundle of evidence.
The PISA Integrity Assessment Centre prides itself on the experience and skills of the professional polygraph examiners who have conducted thousands of examinations across the African continent. If you would like more information on our services or would like to find out more about using polygraph examinations effectively as part of a bundle of evidence in arbitration, please do not hesitate to contact us.