The Disabilities Trust is pleased to share that following a meeting with Victoria Atkins MP, Minister for Safeguarding, all prisoners in England will be screened for Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) sustained through domestic abuse from April 2021.

This follows five years of research from The Disabilities Trust which showed nearly half of men (47%) in HMP Leeds and nearly two-thirds of women (64%) at HMP Drake Hall had a history of traumatic brain injury (TBI). From the women supported through our brain injury service at HMP Drake Hall, 62% reported they had sustained their brain injury through domestic violence.

Whilst the physical symptoms may be obvious, brain injuries can also result in behavioural, cognitive and emotional consequences, which can be considered “hidden” but nevertheless can affect someone for the rest of their lives. Some of these symptoms include poor memory, lack of concentration or difficulties multi-tasking, poor impulsive control, aggression, irritability, but also mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression. The early identification of an injury could help those working within the prison estate to better support men and women to manage these symptoms, whilst helping them engage with rehabilitation programmes and services designed to help prevent reoffending.

The introduction of the new screening question follows amendments to the Domestic Abuse Bill, informed by The Disabilities Trust research and put forward by Chris Bryant MP, who has long campaigned for recognition of the needs of those with a Brain Injury. Whilst these amendments where not accepted by the Government, Minister Victoria Atkins has committed to this practical step to better address the needs of domestic abuse survivors with a brain injury within the prison estate.