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An uncertain future for Liberty Protection Safeguards

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The Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS), which are intended to provide a simpler process that will better implement the safeguards that people need, were set to replace the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) from October 2020. However, because of the current pressures the pandemic is putting on the health and social care sector, this has been delayed until April 2022 (although some provisions about training and new roles are anticipated to come into force before that date).

With providers increasingly looking towards the introduction of the LPS, we found that progress on DoLS varied significantly. In some services, great efforts had been made to improving understanding of LPS prior to its implementation, and to build their confidence in understanding the Mental Capacity Act. However, in other services inspectors noted a reduction in the provision of training for the current DoLS legislation, and lack of drive to improve awareness. Poor understanding of DoLS has remained a fundamental issue throughout its years in legislation. This, together with the delays and uncertainty over the progress of LPS, may mean there is an increasing risk of people being deprived of their liberty without the proper authorisation.

Given that DoLS authorisations can last up to a year, it may not be until March 2023 that DoLS is fully behind us. This underlines the importance of continuing to improve the way providers, local authorities and others work together to support the proper use of the DoLS – and to give careful consideration of how the two systems will work alongside each other in the first year of implementing the LPS. The time ahead also provides an opportunity to consider what can be done now within the current DoLS system to ease the transition.

It remains vitally important, both in the DoLS now and the LPS in future, to make sure people using services, together with their families, supporters and advocates, are kept at the heart of the process. The human rights and quality of life of many thousands of people made vulnerable by their circumstances depend on it.

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Last updated:
15 October 2020