Benefit Cheat Lie Detectors to Be Introduced across the Country

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Byline: By Paul Dale Public Affairs Editor

A lie detection system for benefit applicants being trialled in Birmingham will be rolled out across the country if it proves successful, the Government said last night.

The intention eventually is to use telephone voice analysis technology for the entire benefits system, Work and Pensions Minister James Plaskitt confirmed.

Mr Plaskitt (Lab Warwick & Leamington) said 12 councils, including Birmingham and Warwick, had volunteered to test the system, which detects changes in a caller's voice which could indicate a fraudulent claim is being made.

He had sanctioned the pilot projects after being impressed by results in the insurance industry, which has been using voice recognition technology to detect false claims for some time.

He rejected claims by trade unions that telephone monitoring could scare innocent people into dropping claims.

Mr Plaskitt insisted the technology should not be referred to as a lie detector.

"It is not a lie detector. You have to be physically plugged into a lie detector with electrodes strapped on you, It is a very invasive mechanism. This is simply registering stress in someone's voice," he added.

Mr Plaskitt said: "It works on the basis of registering the default level of stress in the first few exchanges of telephone conversation. As you proceed through the conversation and start to ask more important questions the graph will shoot up if the stress level in the voice rises.

"One of the reasons why stress levels rise may be because a person is not telling the truth. …