Introduction to Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS)

What are Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards / DOLS?

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (formerly known as the Bournewood safeguards) were introduced into the Mental Capacity Act 2005 through the Mental Health Act 2007 (which received Royal Assent in July 2007).

The MCA DOL safeguards apply to anyone:

  • aged 18 and over
  • who suffers from a mental disorder or disability of the mind - such as dementia or a profound learning disability
  • who lacks the capacity to give informed consent to the arrangements made for their care and / or treatment and
  • for whom deprivation of liberty (within the meaning of Article 5 of the ECHR) is considered after an independent assessment to be necessary in their best interests to protect them from harm.

There is no simple definition of deprivation of liberty. The question of whether the steps taken by staff or institutions in relation to a person amount to a deprivation of that person’s liberty is ultimately a legal question, and only the courts can determine the law. The guidance provided seek to assist staff and institutions in considering whether or not the steps they are taking, or proposing to take, amount to a deprivation of a person’s liberty. The deprivation of liberty safeguards give best interests assessors the authority to make recommendations about proposed deprivations of liberty, and supervisory bodies the power to give authorisations that deprive people of their liberty.

These safeguards focus on those in hospital or within care homes who for their own safety and in their own best interests need to be accommodated under care and treatment regimes that may have the effect of depriving them of their liberty, but who lack the capacity to consent.

The deprivation of a person's liberty is a serious matter and should not happen unless it is absolutely necessary and these safeguards have been created to ensure that any decision to deprive someone of their liberty is made following defined processes and in consultation with specific authorities.

Read the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguarding Briefing - December 2009

What needs to happen now?

If you know of anyone in the borough that may be deprived of their liberty  you need to apply for a standard or urgent authorisation, by contacting:  

Tower Hamlets DOLS Service
2nd Floor,
John Onslow House,
1 Ewart Place,
London E3 5EQ

Tel: 020 7364 2019
Fax: 020 7364 2277
Email: DOLS@towerhamlets.gov.uk
 

Assessments will be carried out where necessary.