Chris Bryant MP, a frequent advocate of brain injury awareness and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on acquired brain injury, hosted the event in which MPs were screened using the Brain Injury Screening Index (BISI), a tool provided by national charity The Disabilities Trust.

The charity conducted research into male and female prison populations and found nearly half of males (HM Prison Leeds, 2014) and nearly two-thirds of female prisoners (Making the Link, 2019) screened positive for a history of brain injury.

The cognitive problems associated with brain injuries can significantly impact engagement in rehabilitation programmes and contribute to reoffending. Despite this, there is no regular testing for brain injury conducted in adult prisons in the UK.

The BISI was created in response to the research to help assess whether an offender has a history of brain injury and may require extra support. The charity aimed to 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.

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. Chris Bryant 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.”

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.”