The Disabilities Trust Foundation has invited MPs to attend a brain injury screening in parliament to raise awareness of brain injury, and gain insight into the screening process used in prisons as part of our pilot project.
Chris Bryant MP, a frequent advocate of brain injury awareness and Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Acquired Brian Injury, will host the event on Tuesday 25 June. MPs will be screened using the Brain Injury Screening Index (BISI), a tool developed and provided by the Trust.
It is widely acknowledged that brain injuries are over-represented in the prison population. We previously conducted research in the male prison population and found nearly half screened positive for a history of brain injury (The Disabilities Trust, 2014), while the figure is almost two thirds in the female prison population (The Disabilities Trust, 2019). Moreover, the cognitive problems associated with brain injuries, such as problems with memory, lack of concentration and inability to control anger could significantly impact engagement in rehabilitation programmes and contribute to re-offending. Despite this, there is currently no regular testing for brain injury in adult prisons in the UK.
The BISI was created to help assess whether an individual has a history of brain injury and may require extra support. The Trust believes that brain injury should be included in health assessments on entry to prison and staff should be trained in brain injury awareness.
We hope that this screening event will highlight to MPs the impact of brain injury on the criminal justice system, the difference a screening tool can make and demonstrate just how quick and easy it is to administer.
Chris Bryant MP, who is hosting the screening event, said “All the evidence suggests that simple screening of all prisoners for brain injuries followed by appropriate support could help rehabilitate offenders, cut reoffending and improve prisons. It’s time we followed the science.”
Jocelyn Gaynor, Head of Foundation at The Disabilities Trust said “Our research shows that recognising brain injury could prove vital to reducing rates of reoffending. We want to demonstrate to MPs just how easy it is to integrate the BISI into entry health assessments to make this change.”
Dr Ivan Pitman, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist at The Disabilities Trust, said “The needs of somebody in prison with a brain injury are likely to be complex, and the lack of understanding and identification of a brain injury results in a higher risk of custody and reoffending.”