Liberty-depriving applications reach highest level ever


Applications to deprive people of their liberty - through methods such as straps, restraints or behaviour-controlling medicines - are at their highest ever level.

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications in England reached 195,840 in 2015/16, the highest since they were introduced in 2009 and up on the 137,540 in 2014/15.

A Supreme Court judgment in March 2014, which introduced an "acid test" for depriving people of their liberty, has fuelled a rise in applications from places such as care homes.

Arrangements that would not previously have been considered to be a deprivation of liberty now require a formal DoLS assessment.

Once an application has been received, councils have 21 days to complete all assessments and reach a decision.

Those applications that need an urgent authorisation must be completed in seven days.

Overall, 76,530 (73%) of applications were granted, slightly down on the previous year, while 28,530 were rejected, the NHS Digital data showed.

DoLS applications are more likely to be in older age groups, with 44% for people aged 85 or over. Many of these older people suffer from dementia.

When a person is the subject of DoLS, measures can be used to control them, including the use of locks on doors and straps on chairs and wheelchairs.

The person can be made to stay somewhere against their wishes or the wishes of a family member, have regular sedation to control their behaviour or have objects or belongings removed for their safety.

The new data showed that the North East has the highest rate of applications completed, two and a half times the next highest region, the South West.

The South East had the lowest rate of completed applications per head of population.