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Monitoring the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

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Read the findings from our sixth annual report on the use of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, which looks at the period 2014/15.

About the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which provides the essential framework for people who need to make decisions on behalf of someone else who lacks mental capacity. They are used to protect the rights of people who are deprived of their liberty so that they can be given necessary care or treatment. .

Key findings

There has been a tenfold rise in Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards applications in 2014/15

Since their introduction in 2009, numbers of applications to use the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards were consistently low. However, this changed in March 2014 following the ruling of the Supreme Court which clarified the test for when people are deprived of their liberty. Since then, applications have increased tenfold from 13,715 in the year ending March 2014 to 137,540 by March 2015.

Providers’ use of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards is variable

Through our inspections in 2014/15, we found that staff training and awareness of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards varies across providers, as do the existence and implementation of policies and processes. We found examples where some providers may be unlawfully depriving people of their liberty.

Improvement is needed across the health and social care sector

We believe that the current pressures on the system are unsustainable. We welcome the Law Commission’s consideration on the process for authorising deprivations of liberty and await its final proposals for reforming the system. It is also important that providers and local authorities follow the current legislation and Codes of Practice to the Mental Capacity Act and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards to ensure that people’s rights are protected.

We will continue to monitor the response of providers and the wider system going forward. We will continue to use our inspections and reports to encourage improvements in practice, and challenge providers if they are not meeting legislative requirements which may include taking enforcement action.

Key for the map showing applications by region per 100,000 people

Data in this map from HSCIC's Mental Capacity Act 2005, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (England), Annual Report 2014-15.


Last updated:
6 July 2016