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Shifting perspectives in courts & prisons: The Role of Developmental Neuropsychology in Trauma Informed Care

Mood Disorders Centre Think Tank Seminar Series

A Mood Disorders Centre seminar
Date31 January 2020
Time12:00 to 13:00
PlaceThe Sir Henry Wellcome Building for Mood Disorders Research

Our guest speaker is Huw Williams of the University of Exeter.


Abstract: I will describe how, working in the area of developmental neuropsychology, we have shown how there can be neurodevelopmental factors that can change a young person’s life – through adversity, trauma, and injury to the brain – so they may end up in prisons. Often young people exposed to violence will be more impulsive and have less capacity to manage social situations. Particularly when the violence has led to injury to brain areas vital for social cognition. Many such young people may be excluded from schools, end up being vulnerable to being used by criminal gangs, and end up prisons. Often being at risk of self-harm and suicide. Rates of brain injury are the same between male and female prisons. But for girls and women the main forms of injury is in domestic violence. These injuries – in context of PTSD - lessen the likelihood of survivors being able to develop pro-social life skills. We have explored how to asses and manage issues due to TBI and other condition (such as ADHD, drug and alcohol etc.) in people in prisons systems. Judges are now starting to take account of neuro-developmental maturity and trauma in their deliberations and sentencing. The Ministry of Justice and NHS England have developed new services to better provide neuropsychologically informed rehabilitation. New guidance form UN Convention on Rights of the Child highlight how, to change this cycle of injury, trauma and despair, member states need to develop better systems for social-health and educational support. Which is described as being more “Trauma Informed”. The financial costs – and the social “hurt” of crime – is substantial. In developing trauma informed policies across courts, prisons, probation and police, there is an opportunity to recue such costs.
OrganizerMood Disorders Centre

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