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Deprivation of liberty

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If someone lacks capacity to make decisions regarding the arrangements for their care and treatment, those commissioning and providing the care need to consider the restrictions in place. It doesn’t matter where someone lives – if they are subject to ‘continuous supervision and control’ and are not ‘free to leave’ then they are deprived of their liberty.

Deprivation of liberty safeguards: a practical guide | The Law Society

In order for this deprivation of liberty (and interference with the person’s human rights) to be made lawful, authorisation must be sought.

For people in care homes and hospitals

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) provide a legal framework for people aged 18 or over who are residing in a care home, or in hospital to have the deprivation of liberty authorised.

Managing authorities (the hospital or care home) can request a DoLS authorisation from us.

Ideally requests should be made in advance of the person’s arrival, but if this is not possible, urgent authorisation can be granted via this link.

Once a referral has been received, it will be triaged and prioritised by the DoLS team.

For people living in community settings (community deprivation of liberty)

People might be deprived of their liberty in any setting, including their own home, supported living, shared lives etc. If the criteria are met. However the DoLS legislation does not apply, and the Court of Protection will need to authorise the arrangements. If the persons care is funded solely by health then the health commissioner should be approached in the first instance regarding the deprivation of liberty.

If you are commissioning or providing care for someone and you believe they:

  • lack the capacity to consent to those care arrangements
  • they are subject to continuous supervision control
  • are not free to leave

Then you should contact us.

If they already have an allocated worker, you can discuss it with them.

Once a referral has been received, it will be triaged and prioritised by the allocated community team.

People who are under 18

Whilst the DoLS provisions do not apply to those under the age of 18, recent case law made clear that local authorities are under a duty to consider whether any children in need, or looked-after children, (especially those in foster care or in a residential home), are subject to restrictions which amount to a Deprivation of Liberty.

Where the deprivation of liberty is not authorised by statute, then the appropriate authorisation must be obtained, either from the Court of Protection or from the High Court exercising its inherent jurisdiction.

Children/Young People Under the Age of 16

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 does not apply to those under 16 years. In some situations it may be possible to seek consent from a parent with Parental Responsibility, otherwise an application must be made for authorisation under the inherent jurisdiction of the High Court;

Children/Young People Aged 16 and 17

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 or the Children Act applies. If a young person lacks capacity and is likely to continue to lack capacity once they become an adult it is likely that an application will be made to the Court of Protection. However in some situations, it may be more appropriate for an application to be made under the Children Act even where the young person lacks capacity. If the young person has capacity, but they object to the deprivation of liberty then an application will need to be made under the Children Act. In circumstances of concurrent jurisdictions, there is provision for cases to be transferred between the Court of Protection and a court having jurisdiction under the Children Act.

For people who are under 18 years old, contact us by email at

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