Lie detector tests "morally wrong" Cornwall councillor claimed
The use of lie detector tests by a firm working for Cornwall Council has been slammed as morally wrong and will never happen again - unless approved by full council.
The assurance was made by councillor Alex Folkes, portfolio holder for finance and resources, during a full council meeting on Monday.
Capita had been using Voice Risk Analysis (VRA) software during a review of people claiming single person’s council tax discount.
Letters were sent out to those claiming the benefit last year and these were followed up with telephone interviews.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef wellingtons
Must book to qualify 01209 860332 and present voucher on arrival
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Sunday, December 15 2013
On its website Capita claimed VRA could identify stress and emotion in a caller’s voice pattern.
The seven month project, which concluded in June, caused wide spread outrage among members unaware that the technology was being used.
Councillor Fiona Ferguson, who had resigned from the cabinet in protest claiming the technology was unreliable, welcomed this latest assurance, saying: “I had called for a motion in March to consider the implications of using lie detectors but it was deferred to scrutiny - this felt as though it had been chucked into the long grass.”
Alex Folkes said the
project ensured the authority was not being defrauded by people who were not entitled to claim single person council tax discount.
However, he added: “The use of lie detectors was morally wrong. I am a liberal and this sort of intrusiveness was not warranted, but we also have to protect our funds.
“Capita took the decision to use ‘lie detector’ software as part of the project which has saved the council just over £1.2 million.
“As the ‘lie detector’ software was just one the tools used by Capita it is impossible to say whether its use was a success or failure, however, my view is that the use of such technology is fundamentally wrong in these circumstances and so I have given a commitment to the council that I will not be supporting its use in any future projects.”