“The best facilities I’ve used in the UK”
Quiet. Spacious. Lots of natural light and an excellent reception team: they’re features valued by lots of the people who use Blackpool Enterprise Centre’s meeting rooms. But for Dr Keith Ashcroft, those features matter even more…
Dr Keith Ashcroft is a consultant investigative psychologist and founder and director of the Centre for Forensic Neuroscience. His expertise supports the work of the legal profession, the UK Prison Service and police forces worldwide, for whom he has consulted on matters relating to threat assessment, violence risk assessment, violence prevention, and corporate security issues for the past two decades.
In 2015, Keith took the opportunity to study polygraph (you’ll probably know it by its more common – although incorrect – name of ‘lie detector’) in London. “I was very sceptical at the time,” he explains. “There weren’t very many respected academics who were involved with it.”
Keith’s (and the scientific community’s) view of the science has changed in the intervening years and Keith has developed his own techniques in accordance with the British Psychological Society's ethics. “A lot of my work now involves the polygraph.”
His polygraph work is wide ranging. “It might centre on marital conflict. It could be a conflict between an employee and an employer. There may be issues between rival companies or a question of drugs use in sport. It could be absolutely anything where there's uncertainty as to whether people are being truthful. That’s where I can assist. I’m also an occasional consultant for TV and movie productions where polygraph use is part of the storyline. I’ll help them ensure they’re doing it in an authentic way.”
“We need to forget the idea of lie detection,” Keith says, explaining the value of the polygraph. “It's all about memory detection, and it has to be an action memory – something a person has done. The effort of hiding a memory increases the cognitive load on the brain. That’s when you get physiological reactions that we measure using polygraphs.
“If I’m working for the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, for example, investigating a sports personality suspected of using a performance enhancing drug, the polygraph won’t tell me if they’re ‘lying’. But it will tell me their physiological reaction to their recollection of a memory. That can be used as an indicator of a person’s credibility.”
Based in Blackpool
Keith travels widely because polygraph work needs to be carried out in person, so he operates from a number of bases as far afield as Canada, Bulgaria and Switzerland. In the North West he uses offices in Liverpool and Manchester. In Blackpool, he works from the Enterprise Centre.
“Everyone knows Blackpool, don’t they?” he says. “It’s a landmark, well-connected and easy to get to. It’s a definite advantage that the Enterprise Centre is so close to Blackpool South railway station.”
Keith is extremely enthusiastic about the Enterprise Centre’s facilities and people. “To be honest, they’re the best I've ever used in the whole of the UK. The rooms are perfect for interviews. They all have panoramic views, there's lots of space and light, it’s air conditioned and quiet. This things are important because it helps put interviewees a little more at ease. They don’t feel oppressed by the space.
“You've also got exceptionally good reception staff able to manage the people who come in. Some of these people will be in the midst of some form of conflict so the reception team need a good ear, to be empathetic and make people feel comfortable while they’re waiting for their test or perhaps waiting for a spouse or partner to complete a test.
“Hiring their meeting rooms is also extremely good value.”
Global and local
Keith’s work spans the globe, but there’s good reason for Blackpool businesses to be aware of his services. “I never know what the next phone call will bring – it could be a polygraph for an intellectual property dispute, a work disciplinary meeting, employee theft, recruitment, a relationship issue. In terms of the Blackpool business community, I think it's an untapped resource for any organisation wanting to use polygraph as a widely accepted investigational aid.”