Brain injuries within the criminal justice system

A new report by Criminal Justice Inspectorates has revealed that the number of people with brain injuries is five times higher within the criminal justice system when compared to those in the general population.

An acquired brain injury results from an infection, lack of oxygen or; in the case of many people within the criminal justice system – a blow to the head.

Talking to the experts

Speaking about the report, Gemma Buckland – Director of Do It Justice – said:

“Young adults who are involved in the criminal justice system are going through a distinct period of brain development. They’re likely to have less emotional temperance, so if somebody has an acquired brain injury, they may be more violent and have a higher risk of suicide, and cannot undertake the thinking processes needed in order to not engage in the behaviour.”

Trauma in the form of violence, poor parental attachment, or even siblings involved within the justice system can also compound this, leading to further punishment due to poorer decisions and a return to the system post-release.

A change in neurodiversity

It is hoped the report will lead to changes in how the criminal justice system handles neurodiversity.

Chloe Hayward of the United Kingdom Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF), says:

“The key things we have been pressing for are screening and training. We don’t know how many people within the system have an acquired brain injury. It is a hidden disability; we need to make sure all the people across the justice system, including judges, police officers and magistrates, have an understanding of an ABI.”

Currently, there is no research into how many brain injuries are acquired due to violence, assault or self-harm within prisons. Both Gemma and Chloe confirm this is an area that would benefit from further investigation.

While it is on the action plan, there are currently no resources in place to make this happen.

Find out more about how NRC Medical Experts support solicitors and patients with expert medico-legal reporting for brain injuries.