Headway’s Justice Programme Support for brain injury survivors and families within the justice system

Headway’s Justice Programme delivers a range of projects and initiatives to

  • Raise awareness of the significant number of people in the justice system with an acquired brain injury (ABI) and their resultant needs.
  • Advocate for change in policy and practice, to ensure brain injury survivors receive appropriate support within the justice system.
  • Provide opportunities for individuals with an ABI to access support in relation to experiences with the justice system.

Click the links below to go straight to each section.

I have a brain injury and I have been arrested for an offence

If you are a Headway Brain Injury Identity Card holder, you can call the 24-hour legal assistance helpline number, displayed on the front of the card. This number can be called to request criminal legal advice and/or representation from solicitors trained in understanding brain injury.

You can also inform the Police you are a cardholder and ask them to make a note of the effects of brain injury listed on the front of your card. The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), which covers England and Wales, Police Scotland, and the Police Service of Northern Ireland all recognise and endorse this card.

Depending on the individual effects you experience as a result of your brain injury, you may wish to request the support of an appropriate adult (AA).

An appropriate adult is there to make sure you understand what is happening. And why it is happening.

They can:

        • support you when the police ask you questions
        • help you talk to the police
        • make sure that you understand your rights
        • make sure the police behave properly and respect your rights
        • help you to get a legal adviser
        • Further information about the role of an AA can be accessed here: Rethink's Appropriate Adult (AA) fact sheet

I have been a victim of a crime that has caused a brain injury

Suffering a brain injury as a result of being a victim of a crime can have a life-changing impact on survivors, family members, carers and the people around them.

If you have experienced/are experiencing domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247, live chat with the National Domestic Abuse Helpline team 3pm - 10pm Monday to Friday or fill in a contact form to request a call back from the Helpline team. The Headway Helpline also provides a free, confidential service available to anyone with a question about brain injury (9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday) Tel: 0808 800 2244 Email: helpline@headway.org.uk

I have concerns for a family member with an ABI who has been sent to Prison

Each prison has a Safer Custody line or online form for individuals who may have concerns about someone in prison.

When you call the Safer Custody team you may be put through to voicemail, the voicemails are checked regularly throughout the day. On the voicemail you will need to give the following information:

        • your name and number
        • name of the prisoner you are concerned about and their prison number/date of birth
        • An explanation of what your concern is

If your concern is urgent and you need to speak to someone immediately or it is out of hours, you can call the main prison switchboard.  

You can find contact details for all Prisons in England and Wales here: Prisons in England and Wales - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Scotland: Scottish Prison Service (SPS)

If you are concerned that a family member is not being provided with appropriate support for their brain injury in Prison, you can email justiceprogramme@headway.org.uk.

I am in breach of my Probation Community Order / Licence because of my brain injury

If you feel your brain injury is impacting on your ability to comply with your Community Order or Licence, you can do the following:

        • Speak to your Probation Officer about the specific effects you experience as a result of your brain injury. Do this in writing where possible, so that you have a record of informing them.
        • Apply for a Headway Brain Injury Identity Card to enable you to access a 24-hour free legal advice helpline.
        • Request an appointment with your GP / medical professional to explore any additional treatment options which may be available.
        • Call the Headway Helpline to explore additional support.
        • Substance misuse and brain injury *coming soon

How can I use my experience of brain injury and the justice system to help others or influence positive change?

Acquired brain injury (ABI) lived experience forums

Headway recognises that experts through experience should have a voice and play a key role in achieving the aims of the Justice Programme

We achieve this through our acquired brain injury (ABI) lived experience forums.

If you have an ABI and experience with the justice system, or you have suffered a brain injury as a result of a crime please email justiceprogramme@headway.org.uk for further information.

Useful websites