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Wednesday 20th June 2018

Youth crime linked to brain injury

11th November 2010

A new study has unveiled a linked between young offenders and childhood brain injury.


A survey carried out by a team from the University of Exeter of 197 young male offenders aged 11-19  found about half reported having had a childhood brain injury, which is three times higher than in non-offenders.

They were questioned over medical history, crime, mental health and drug use, alongside social factors such as deprivation and lack of opportunities.

There was also a link between multiple head injuries and those who carried out violent crimes.

The Exeter team suggest that better assessment of injuries could help prevent re-offending.

The study in the journal Neuropsychological Rehabilitation found that while a brain injury alone is unlikely to increase a child's chances of criminal activity, it could play a factor in those already susceptible to crime, and may increase the chance of repeat offences.

Huw Williams, associate professor of clinical neuropsychology at the University of Exeter, said: “The associations between brain injuries and crime are very problematic. It may not be causal in the sense of increasing the chances of crime, but it may well be a factor in terms of re-offending.”

He said that if children did suffer an injury, it was important that they were identified and that they were offered better access to neuro-rehabilitation.

A previous study on adult prisoners found around 60% had some degree of traumatic brain injury in their past.

In both studies a head injury was associated with a greater risk of re-offending, said Professor Williams.


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