A brain injury survivor was joined by Prince Harry to launch a new identity card aimed at helping police recognise brain injury survivors.
Jamie Gailer, who had suffered a brain injury when he was knocked down by a car in 1994, was driving home on April 10 last year in heavy rain and lost control of his car, sustaining a cut to his head, leaving him disorientated.
Police mistakenly believed Jamie, 46, was driving under the influence of alcohol and arrested him.
Jamie, from Fareham explained: ‘In my everyday routine I can communicate well but when I am faced with stressful situations, I can appear drunk because I have difficulties processing information and answering questions.’
Headway, the brain injury association, created the brain injury identity card to prevent this situation in future and assist police officers in identifying injury survivors, ensuring they receive suitable support and are diverted away from the criminal justice system where appropriate.
Speaking at the launch event, Prince Harry said: ‘This surely is a life-changing moment for people with a traumatic brain injury, whether or not they ever get arrested.
‘It can be quite terrifying if you’re by yourself being accused of something you haven’t done. This card is a saving grace for you guys and for the police as well.’
Jamie agreed with the prince and explained how the card helped him explain his hidden disability to others.
He said: ‘The card is like the voice in my pocket. Just because a person may not have big scars or holes in their head, the authorities fail to believe the scale of the injury or impact of that injury.
‘There needs to be a greater understanding of brain injury within the police and the card is a great place to start.’
Jamie added: ‘Harry is a cracking lad. ‘He was so down to Earth.
‘I was impressed by not only his understanding of brain injury but his willing to learn more.’
Chief executive of Headway, Peter McCabe, said: ‘We are delighted that Prince Harry offered his support to launch this important project.
‘The hidden effects of brain injury can often lead to misunderstandings and difficulties for survivors.’
He added: ‘The card also has the additional benefit of breaking down social exclusion, with card holders having renewed confidence in the knowledge that they can easily explain their support needs should they require assistance in everyday situations.
‘Many people are assumed to be drunk as a result of having slurred speech or an unsteady gait, with attempts to explain the effects of their brain injury often being ignored.
‘It’s a simple solution to a tricky conversation.’
The Brain Injury Identification Card has the support of a number of police forces, including the National Police Chief’s Council and includes a list of the effects of an individual’s brain injury.
To apply for the card visit headway.org.uk/supporting-you/brain-injury-identity-card