New ID card can stop discrimination against brain injury survivors

Scottish justice minister Michael Matheson
Scottish justice minister Michael Matheson

A new initiative was launched today to help brain injury survivors combat wrong assumptions made about them on a daily basis.

Falkirk West MSP and Scottish justice minister Michael Matheson helped launch the Scotland-wide launch of the Brian Injury Identity Card at a special event in Larbert this afternoon.

Part of brain injury charity Headway’s Justice Project, the card will help police identify brain injury survivors and ensure they are given appropriate support when they come into contact with the criminal justice system, either as an accused suspect, victim or witness.

The new card, which lists details of the person’s brain injury-related physical traits and behaviour issues, also has the additional benefit of breaking down social exclusion, with card holders having renewed confidence in the knowledge they can easily explain their support needs should they require assistance in everyday situations.

One brain injury survivor said people often wrongly assume he his either drunk or stoned on drugs because of the way he walks. He said his new brain injury card now gives him added confidence because he can show it to people to quickly explain his condition.

Mr Matheson, who was patron of the Falkirk branch of Headway for a number of years, said: “It can be difficult to identify if a person has a brain injury just by looking at their physical appearance. This card can make sure police officers can identify individuals with a brain injury at as early a stage as possible.

“We have to make sure we do everything possible to provide support for those individuals with head injuries and this card will make a significant contribution to this. You can be assured of the Scottish Government’s continue commitment on this.”

Each card carries the Police Scotland logo and the initiative has the complete backing of the force.

Police Scotland superintendent David Pettigrew added: “The benefits of this project were immediately obvious and all out police officers and custody officers are aware of it.”

Applications for the card are now available free of charge to anyone 18 and over who has a verifiable brain injury.

Visit www.headway.org.uk/idcard for more information on how to apply for the card.