Your right to freedom and safety

You have the right to be free to do the things you want to do, live where you want to live and to be safe. If someone's freedom is taken away or restricted - this is called Deprivation of liberty.

How can someone be deprived of their liberty?

Someone else may think that they need to restrict your freedom to give you the care or treatment you need. If you are able to make an informed choice about this, it is your right to say no and nobody else needs to be involved.

If you can't understand what is happening, the law says that whoever is looking after you cannot take your freedom away without independent checks that this is the best thing for you. This law is set out in the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act.

The law says that whoever is trying to make these restrictions cannot take your freedom away without an independent person making sure that your voice is heard and that the restrictions are only in place to keep you safe.

The only time when your informed choice might be over-ridden is if you need to be detained under the Mental Health Act.

A Deprivation of liberty could take place anywhere - in a care home or hospital, even in your own home. If it happens in your own home, the Council cannot agree the restrictions; and the situation needs to be looked at by a court (the 'Court of Protection'). The court also has to be involved if you consistently say that you don’t want to be in a care home or hospital.


What are the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards?

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) are a system of checks, which are described in the Mental Capacity Act. They apply in registered care homes and hospitals. They are needed to make sure that someone aged 18 or over, who has a mental disorder and who because of this condition is not able to give informed consent to their care and treatment in a care home or hospital, really needs to have their freedom taken away to keep them safe from harm. Two different people will carry out the assessments, a doctor, usually a psychiatrist with a specific qualification, and a social worker trained Best Interests Assessor. If they agree that the deprivation of liberty is necessary an 'authorisation' is given to the care home or hospital by the Council.

What rights does someone have if there is a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards authorisation?

The person whose freedom has been taken away will always have a representative to speak up on their behalf. This could be a family member, friend or someone trained to do this as a paid professional.

They also have the right to ask for a review from the council, or to appeal the authorisation by asking a Court of Protection judge to look at their case.

What do I do if I'm worried?

Speak to the person in charge - the care home manager or the doctor or nurse in charge of the hospital ward. They will need to contact the Council to request authorisation. The person in charge can give themselves an urgent authorisation to deprive the person of their liberty for up to seven days if they believe that they must act immediately to keep someone safe.

Useful contacts:

If you want to report a concern that someone may be having their liberty unnecessarily restricted in a care home or hospital setting then you should contact:

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Office
Address: Civic Centre, 44 York Street, Twickenham, TW1 3BZ
Phone: 020 8831 6337