Link Between Traumatic Brain Injury and Criminal Behaviour

Blackwater Law personal injury solicitors advise and represent clients across in the country in relation to claiming compensation for brain injuries sustained in accidents.

We therefore keep up to date with the latest commentary surrounding the impact of such injuries on the lives of those affected and found a report published by The Centre for Mental Health into the potential link between traumatic brain injury and criminal behaviour of some interest.

Studies Reveal Link Between Traumatic Brain Injury and Criminal Behaviour

It is documented that there is at least some link between traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and criminal behaviour, including that of a violent nature, in those that suffer from such injuries.

Studies conducted in populations across the globe have identified cognitive and behavioural changes in individuals that have sustained serious brain injuries which heighten the risk of impaired judgement, reduced control over impulses and elevated levels of aggression. These are factors known to be associated with criminal behaviour, and whilst not everyone who has sustained a traumatic brain injury will go on to engage in criminal activity, the evidence illustrated in the report by the Centre for Mental Health is cause for concern.

Multiple TBIs Could Increase the Risk of Violent Behaviour

Estimates now place the proportion of adult offenders aged 18+ who have sustained a TBI at 60%, with the figure for under 18s at 30%. Multiple instances of serious brain injury have been shown to have a cumulative effect, further increasing the risk of criminal behaviour with each subsequent affliction. Offenders with a history of traumatic brain injury have been specifically linked with a higher probability of committing violent crimes, and an increased risk of re-offending.

Further Research Required into the Link between TBIs and Criminal Behaviour

It is worth noting however that the notion of head injuries and criminal offending sharing a common determinant has not been ruled out. Whilst it is safe to associate serious brain injury with an elevated risk of criminal behaviour, the topic is not sufficiently well understood that we can simply state that there is a link between traumatic brain injury and criminal behaviour – common factors may be at play which render some individuals at an increased risk of suffering a brain injury as well as being involved in criminal behaviour.

Additional longitudinal studies are required to assess a causal link, with particular focus being paid to instances where conviction of a criminal offense takes place after a diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, rather than before; as has previously been the case with investigations into prison populations. Should such studies go ahead, findings would have to be compared to controlled matches within the general population. Thus far, studies in the field have also centred largely on US populations, with a greater need for investigation into UK offenders, and those of other nationalities, moving forward.

Recent Study Reveals High Percentage of Offenders with Brain Injury

One such UK sample examined by Pitman et al., 2015, looked at 613 male prisoners on admission to HMP Leeds, and found that more than 76% had experienced more than one brain injury, with 30% having experienced more than five. 70% were found to have sustained a brain injury before committing their first offense, and 41% of those who claimed to have suffered a serious brain injury committed their first offense before the age of 18, as compared to 20% of those who did not. Of those who had suffered a traumatic brain injury, it was also found that 44% had been in prison on five or more occasions, whilst 60% reported to have committed a violent offense, compared to 38% amongst prisoners with no history of brain injury.

Further research is indeed required to develop a comprehensive understanding of the topic and any potential causal link, which would be of significant concern. In the meantime, head and brain injury solicitors should be aware of this report and the potential link between traumatic brain injury and criminal behaviour.

If you or a close friend or relative have suffered a traumatic brain injury, use our brain injury compensation calculator to find out how much compensation you could be entitled to. If you feel that you have a case for compensation, call our brain injury experts on 0800 083 5500 for a free, no-obligation discussion about your case.