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Headway and HM Prison & Probation Service launch innovative brain injury pilot Main Image

Headway and HM Prison & Probation Service launch innovative brain injury pilot

Mon 13 Mar 2023

Headway – the brain injury association - has secured funding from HM Prison & Probation Service (HMPPS) to provide specialist brain injury training to probation practitioners through the ‘Brain Injury Support Programme.'

The programme will help probation practitioners recognise potential causes of brain injury and support individuals subject to probation in the South-Central region, including those in Fareham, Reading and Southampton.

Charlotte Curness, Justice Project Manager for Headway, said: “We are thrilled to be given the opportunity to provide this much-needed support to probation practitioners and people on probation with acquired brain injuries (ABIs) in the South-Central Probation Delivery Unit. 

“There are many possible causes for ABIs, including those sustained through a fall, accidents, tumours and strokes.

“The consequences of ABI can have a detrimental impact on an individual’s journey through the criminal justice system - including their time in custody, transition back to the community and engagement with probation. Headway will begin delivering the training and Brain Injury Support Programme this March.”

Probation practitioners are highly likely to encounter people who have had an ABI, the impact of which can often be misunderstood due to the complex, fluctuating and often hidden effects that can be confused with other conditions, such as mental ill health. 

This service will allow practitioners to identify signs of ABI and adopt techniques to minimise non-compliance. Headway will use the HMPPS funding to create and deliver the training package, as well as a referral pathway to enable practitioners to refer people on probation to access Headway support.

The Centre for Mental Health estimates that around 60 per cent of adult male offenders have a history of TBI, often involving multiple injuries, which evidence shows to have a cumulative impact. 

Rates have also been found to be high in the female prison and probation population, with many women sustaining their injuries through intimate partner violence (IPV). 

In addition to physical effects, an ABI can affect an individual’s emotions and behaviour, psychological state, memory and cognitive skills, including their ability to process and retain information or instructions. 

This service will therefore highlight the signs of ABI and allow probation practitioners to use the relevant techniques to address issues relating to risk or compliance. 

Charlotte Curness added: “Not everyone who has sustained a brain injury will have received treatment in hospital or a clinical diagnosis. This is particularly likely to be the case for those who sustained brain injuries as a result of Intimate Partner Violence. Individuals may also have no recollection of the incident or may not recognise the impact a blow to the head has had. 

“A history of attempting suicide may also indicate a brain injury, as depending on the method, it may have caused hypoxia or anoxia – where the brain loses or has insufficient oxygen. Therefore, it is vital that probation practitioners are equipped to identify potential causes of brain injury to prompt further exploration when necessary.”

Sue Gale, Head of Community Integration for South Central, said: “We are excited to be working with Headway. As a leading authority on brain injury, the charity is well-placed to improve our probation practitioners’ understanding of this complex condition.

“Supporting people on probation through signposting and guidance will also be hugely beneficial in helping them to better manage the effects of their brain injuries. The hope is that this will complement our work to reduce reoffending rates while also improving the lives of brain injury survivors released from prison or subject to community orders.”


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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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