Research carried out by The Disabilities Trust Foundation shows nearly half of male prisoners (47%) have a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

You can read more about it below.

In response to this, The Disabilities Trust Foundation has developed a Brain Injury Screening Index (BISI ®) to identify a history of brain injury among prisoners.

In order to support people in prison with a history of brain injury we have provided a Brain Injury Linkworker (BIL) service in HMP Leeds, and pilot projects in HMP/YOI Hindley and HMP/YOI Wetherby. In 2016, we published the Brain Injury Linkworker Report (2016 Edition), which provides a full account of our projects in these institutions.

From 2016-2018, The Trust supported female offenders with brain injuries in HMP/YOI Drake Hall, a closed female prison in Staffordshire. You can read more about it our Making the Link report.

The Trust works with a range of experts and policymakers to improve the lives of people with brain injury, including the Criminal Justice and Acquired Brain Injury Interest Group (CJABIIG), and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Brain Injury. Here is a copy of the presentation "From research to practice" given to the APPG by the Trust’s lead in this area, Dr Ivan Pitman in February 2018.

Read more information about the brain injury awareness training available to staff working with prisoners.

Leeds prison research

The study showed that routine screening, coupled with increased awareness, staff training and effective support could prove vital to reducing recidivism.

Through the help of a band 3 healthcare assistant, a six question screening questionnaire was conducted within 48 hours of admission to the prison for every new arrival over a six month period. Those that responded positively to the screen were offered further assessment and support. All positive respondents were then referred to our specialist research team.

During the research phase, the Foundation employed a full time research assistant to work within the prison, conducting interviews and assessments alongside our clinical lead Consultant in Neuropsychology and Rehabilitation. The research not only provided the largest prevalence data set for an adult prison in the UK but also answered some of the questions posed above.

This was the first study of its kind within a UK prison, which followed a self-reporting questionnaire with a clinical interview to confirm the presence of brain injury. We also conducted cognitive testing to ascertain an assessment of needs for each prisoner with a brain injury.

At the time of the study there was no screening for brain injury within the criminal justice system. The Foundation set about developing a screening tool that could be easily added to existing assessment processes used at reception within a prison.

The research study enabled us to examine the validity of the screening tool. Read more here about the Brain Injury Screening Index.

The results of the study led the Foundation to place a full-time specialist brain injury Linkworker to support prisoners with a brain injury in HMP Leeds. This project has now ended, and the results of the project can be seen in our Brain Injury Linkworker Report 2016.

If you would like to know more, please read our Leeds prison research briefing paper.

The Foundation has recently finished running two projects in UK prisons. HMP Drake Hall is a women's closed prison located near the village of Eccleshall in Staffordshire. Between 2016-2018, we provided a Brain Injury Linkworker (BIL) service to work alongside health and case management professionals in prison and the community. You can find more information about this project here or download the briefing paper. Our Making the Link report was launched on 6th February 2019 in Westminster and combines the findings from: an independent evaluation by Royal Holloway (University of London), service evaluation statistics and a follow-on prevalence study.

HMP Preston, a category B local prison, accepts adult males including 18-21 year olds from Crown Courts serving Lancashire and Cumbria. The Foundation placed a Linkworker in Preston in a project funded by Lankelly Chase, which ran over three phases, and focused on systematically evaluating the effectiveness of a support service specifically designed to work with incarcerated offenders who have suffered a brain injury. More information about this project can be found here.

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