Jail survey links brain injury to reoffending

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A STUDY at a Yorkshire prison has found almost half its male inmates had suffered a brain injury.

The experts behind the research, which was carried out at HMP Leeds, say the findings point to a link between brain injuries and reoffending.

In the largest UK study of its kind, nearly half of 600 inmates at Armley jail were found to have suffered a traumatic brain injury.

The Disabilities Trust Foundation is warning that the effects of this ‘hidden disability’ are often unrecognised and it is calling for improved diagnosis and support.

Inmates were asked if they had suffered a serious blow to the head that left them dazed.

In-depth interviews with those who had, showed almost three quarters had sustained their first injury before committing their first offence.

More than 40 per cent had been in prison on five or more occasions.

The charity said even mild or moderate brain injuries could affect judgement, memory and behaviour.

Consultant clinical neuropsychologist Ivan Pitman, who carried out the study for the charity, said they hoped screening for brain injuries could be rolled out throughout prisons so that victims can be properly supported in and out of prison.

He added that reoffending rates could point to brain injuries having an impact.

“Unless we do something about it, we are going to perpetuate that cycle,” he said.

A specialist brain injury link worker is now based in Armley to help inmates affected.