Skip to main content
Criminal Justice

Pioneering brain injury Linkworker service launched for women prisoners at HMP Drake Hall

About 60% of adult prisoners and 30% of young offenders have a history of traumatic brain injury.  The specialist Disability Trust Foundation Linkworker scheme for female offenders with a brain injury at HMP Drake Hall near Stafford is  the first scheme of its type in a women’s prison in the UK.

Someone with a brain injury may experience poor memory, lack of concentration, aggression, problems sleeping and other difficulties which impact on their everyday lives and may make it difficult to engage with rehabilitation programmes.  The pilot Linkworker service will deliver direct one-to-one support to women with brain injuries and develop partnerships with health, social care, probation, homeless, and drug and alcohol services to ensure each woman has the appropriate network in place on discharge from prison.

Each person with a brain injury will be identified on admission, using the Foundation’s simple Brain Injury Screening Index (BISI) questionnaire before being referred to the specialist Linkworker.  Prison staff will also be provided with brain injury training and given simple tips – speaking more slowly without distractions to allow information to be processed, suggesting diaries and written reminders to assist with memory problems – to support the women concerned.

This two-year, £107,000 pilot scheme aims to establish whether specialist support following a brain injury, even years after it was sustained, means an individual has a greater chance of engaging with services, integrating with the community and breaking the cycle of re-offending.  Funded largely by the Barrow Cadbury Trust and The Pilgrim Trust, the service mirrors the brain injury Linkworker services previously provided by the Disabilities Trust Foundation in male prisons and Young Offender Institutions.

The aims of the project at HMP Drake Hall are to:

• identify women with a brain injury who enter custody
• develop a care pathway and provide dedicated support to women with a brain injury
• raise awareness of brain injury within the female prison population
• explore causal links between self-harm, violence and brain injury in the female prison population

The Disability Foundation is commissioning an external evaluation of the pilot programme, as well as undertaking a research study to look at the relationship between traumatic brain injury (TBI), female offenders, violent offending, in-prison behavioural problems and reoffending rates.
About 60% of adult prisoners and 30% of young offenders have a history of traumatic brain injury