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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)


DoLS is part of the Mental Capacity Act and is covered by all the same principles.

Most importantly, DoLS only applies to people who lack mental capacity as defined by the act. Nobody who has the ability to make their own decision about their accommodation, care and treatment can be deprived of their liberty without their consent unless it has been decided by a court e.g. when someone is sent to prison, or when someone is detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act 1983 (MHA) If someone is unable to make their own decision, ie lacks mental capacity, then DoLS might be considered.

The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) in its original form allows staff to restrict a person's liberty, in order to look after them, but it does not allow them to deprive somebody of their liberty which is considered a more serious step and therefore requires special safeguards. When an organisation thinks it may have crossed the line from merely restricting liberty to actually depriving someone of liberty they have a responsibility to gain authorisation. DoLS is the process for this authorisation

Who does it apply to?

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards applies to people who are:

  • 18 years old or older, and

  • Lack the mental capacity to make a decision about the arrangements for their accommodation, care and treatment, and are;

  • Within a domestic setting, resident in a Hospital or a Registered Care Home, and are

  • Not detained under the Mental Health Act 1983, and

  • Being Deprived of their Liberty.

    Under what circumstances can someone be legally deprived of their liberty?

    Authorisation will only be given for a Deprivation of Liberty when it is:

  • Necessary to prevent harm to the individual;

  • Is proportionate to the likelihood and severity of the harm;

  • Is in the individual's best interests.

What protection is there to stop DoLS being misused?

Essex County Council are the Supervisory Body for people within a hospital setting in Essex.

The Essex County Council DoLS Team provides two functions for people in hospital or a care home:

  • Giving the necessary authorisation to deprive someone of their liberty if it is in their best interests and will prevent them coming to any harm;

  • Prevent people from being deprived of their liberty when it is not necessary, or is not in their best  interests.