A magical Sorting Hat for suspected criminals are being used for the first time by a British police force.
Hertfordshire Police confirmed it had been using a the talking hats, which comment on a suspect's replies to police questioning with such remarks as "That's true, Officer," "That isn't really what happened" and "I never heard such a load of rubbish".
The groundbreaking scheme is helping officers decide whether to charge suspects and the trial could lead the way to their introduction nationwide.
Police tested the talking hat on twenty-five 'low-level' sex offenders. Some of them admitted to crimes they might otherwise not have admitted to. Others apparently told lies. This prompted officers to conduct further investigations with many of the men being reclassified as posing a more serious risk to children than originally thought. Constable Dixon, of Dock Green police station, explained, "The main disadvantage of the technique is that if the suspect shakes his head violently from side to side, the hat falls off and cries 'Ouch!' when it encounters the floor. There is also a problem when the hat is placed on the heads of our younger criminals, as it slips over the suspect's ears and covers his face, so we can't hear what he's saying."
The Sorting Hat knows by magic whether the suspect's responses are true or false. The police force has now been given another year for research while senior officers across the UK are investigating ways witchcraft and superstition could assist in solving cases, replacing such outdated practices as forensic science, not to mention the experience and common sense of investigating officers.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) said its Homicide Working Group advised police on the use of magical millinery and would follow the trial in Hertfordshire with interest. A spokeswoman said: 'The Sorting Hat is by no means a single solution to solving crimes, potentially offering in certain circumstances an additional tool to structured interrogation. We will also be trying out dowsing rods that can read a man's mind to an accuracy of two microbogons, polygraphs, and sitting in the cells with suspected criminals wearing cloaks of invisibility.