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Almost two thirds of female prisoners have signs of brain injury, research shows

View profile for Malcolm Underhill
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Nearly two thirds of prisoners at a women’s jail were found by researchers to have signs of brain injury, suggesting they may have suffered a traumatic head injury at some point in their lives.

Of 173 female prisoners surveyed at Staffordshire’s Drake Hall prison, 64% gave answers that were considered by the research team to be consistent with signs of a brain injury. The research was carried out the Disabilities Trust and independently evaluated by Royal Holloway, University of London.

Of the women showing signs of brain injury, almost all (96%) had symptoms that suggested the brain damage was the result of physical trauma. 62% reported that their injuries were the result of domestic violence and 1 in 3 (33%) said that their brain injury occurred prior to their first criminal offence.

The link between offenders and traumatic brain injury

This latest research adds to an increasing body of evidence showing a link between prisoners and brain injury. A 2010 study into adult male prisoners found 60% had suffered a head injury, suggesting that the issue is relatively consistent across both male and female prisoners.

The link between traumatic brain injuries and increased likelihood of violent behaviour has been supported by previous research, including in a 2012 study of people who have physically abused their spouses or partners (known as ‘intimate partner violence’ or IPV). This study showed that more than half (53%) of people who committed intimate partner violence had a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI).

In a statement released alongside the research results, the Disabilities Trust said: “The needs of women in prison with TBI are likely to be complex, and the lack of understanding and identification of a brain injury may result in a higher risk of custody and reoffending.”

Irene Sobowale, chief executive of the Disabilities Trust, said: “For the first time in the UK, we have considered the specific needs and experiences of female offenders, who are some of the most vulnerable in the criminal justice system.”

Ms Sobowale also said: “There is much more work to be done to ensure that women with a brain injury are provided with effective support to ensure that they can engage in rehabilitation programmes and reduce the likelihood of reoffending.”

Getting the right support for living with a traumatic brain injury

As the Disabilities Trust correctly highlighted, people living with a traumatic brain injury often have complex needs, meaning they require a range of specialist support.

This can include various types of treatment and care, including surgery, medication, physical therapy, as well as cognitive therapy and counselling to deal with the mental and emotional impact of their injuries. Counselling can be particularly important where a brain injury survivor has issues with violent behaviour, as well as other types of criminal behaviour that may be connected to issues such as decreased impulse control or empathy.

Unfortunately, funding this type of support is beyond the means of many brain injury survivors, which is why claiming compensation can be essential wherever possible. If your injury was due to an accident that was not your fault, domestic violence or any other kind of assault, you may be entitled to substantial compensation that can make a huge difference to the support you are able to access.

IBB Claims specialises in all types of personal injury claims, with particular expertise and experience in helping people to claim compensation for traumatic brain injuries. We offer a free initial consultation to discuss your situation and advise you on whether we believe you have grounds for a claim and how much compensation you may be able to claim. We support the majority of our clients on a no win, no fee basis, meaning there is no upfront cost to make a claim.

IBB Claims’ partner Malcolm Underhill has particular expertise with all types of brain injuries, being accredited as a Brain Injury Specialist by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Our team has also been recognised by Chambers & Partners and the Legal 500, the two leading client guides to the legal profession, for our exceptional skill in handling negligence claims.

Chambers describes Malcolm as being a highly experienced personal injury practitioner with a strong focus on cases that involve brain injury. A client notes: "He is a very personable, sympathetic professional that has helped us as a family….."

To find out more about making a traumatic brain injury claim or to book your free initial consultation, please get in touch now by calling 0333 123 9099 or requesting a call back.

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