The province has temporarily halted a controversial test that involved attaching sensors to the genitals of young sex offenders to measure their response to images and audio narratives that include descriptions of sex with children.

The tests, which purportedly help psychiatrists treat underage sex offenders, were suspended to allow for an investigation by Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond, B.C.’s advocate for children and youth.

David Eby, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, one of two organizations that raised red flags about the testing yesterday morning, said he was pleased that an investigation had been called and the tests had been suspended.

Andre Picard, provincial director of youth forensic psychiatric services, welcomed Turpel-Lafond’s review.

“The nature of this tool is sexually related,” Picard said. “But you could not treat a youth with sexual problems without engaging in explicit sexual discussion.”

The “penile plethysmograph” test, he added, does not include pictures of naked children, but rather uses photos of children alongside “highly suggestive audio narratives.”

Deviant sexual arousals are noted and used in treatment programs for youths aged 12 to 17, all who have been found guilty of serious sexual offences.

Treatment is court-ordered.