Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

The Mental Health Act 2007 has amended the Mental Capacity Act 2005 introducing the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) from 1st April 2009. They were introduced to prevent breaches of the European Convention of Human Rights. The deprivation of liberty safeguards provide legal protection for vulnerable people in hospital or a care home registered under ther Care Standards Act 2000, whether placed under public or private arrangments.


Some people in hospitals or who live in care homes can’t make their own decisions about their care or treatment because they lack the mental capacity to do so. They may need more care and protection than others to ensure they don’t suffer harm. Sometimes, caring for and treating people who need extra protection may mean restricting their freedom. For instance, it might be necessary to stop a person from leaving the hospital or care home, or staff might have to make most of the choices for a person inside the care home. If there are a number of restrictions like this, it may be that the person is being deprived of their liberty.

Hospitals and care homes should always try to avoid this, but sometimes there is no alternative to deprive a person of their liberty because it is in their best interests.

Some examples may be:

  • Someone resists being admitted to a place and they are restrained and or sedated so that they can be admitted.
  • Staff have to exercise complete control over the care and movement of someone for a period of time.
  • The care home or hospital has decided that someone cannot be released into the care of others, or allowed to live somewhere else.
  • Carers ask for someone to be discharged to their care and this is refused.
  • Someone is not able to maintain social contacts because of restrictions placed on their seeing other people.
  • Someone loses independence because they are under continuous supervision and control.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards may apply to anyone who:

  • Is aged 18 or older, and
  • Is suffering a mental disorder or disability of the mind, such as dementia or profound learning disability
  • Lacks the capacity to give consent for their care/treatment, and
  • Is receiving care or treatment in circumstances that amount to a deprivation of liberty that may be necessary to protect them from harm.

Following guidance from the Chief Coroner for England and Wales, local coroners will be conducting a formal inquest for every person who dies whilst under a deprivation of liberty safeguards authorisation.

We understand that this is a very sensitive subject and could cause distress, however it is important you are made aware of these changes, and understand what these changes mean for you and your family.

An information leaflet has been produced to help guide you through this process. Please follow the link to follow

DoLS Leaflet

If you have any further enquires please contact the deprivation of liberty safeguards team or the coroner's office, see contact details below


Last Updated on 23 January 2017

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