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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

Find out what a deprivation of liberty is and what Deprivation of Liberty safeguards are, including why they are needed and how they work. 

Report a concern if you are worried about an adult who lacks capacity to consent to care, treatment and accommodation when they are in a care home or hospital.

Deprivation of liberty

Your liberty can only be taken away from you in very specific situations. The Mental Capacity Act calls this a deprivation of liberty. It should only be used if it is the least restrictive way of keeping you safe or making sure you have the right medical treatment.

The mental health charity Mind has a good explanation of what deprivation of liberty is.

Deprivation of Liberty safeguards

The Deprivation of Liberty safeguards is a serious matter to be used sparingly, and only when the principles of good care planning and the Mental Capacity Act have been exhausted. 

Safeguards provide legal protection for vulnerable people who are deprived of their liberty, and provide legal framework in which decisions can be challenged. 

The safeguards are designed to protect the interests of an extremely vulnerable people and to:

  • ensure people can be given the care they need in the least restrictive way
  • prevent arbitrary decisions that deprive vulnerable people of their liberty
  • provide people with rights of challenge against unlawful detention

Care homes and hospitals

Care homes and hospitals need to seek authorisation from us if they need to deprive a person who lacks capacity of their liberty as part of their care and/or treatment.

Mental Capacity Act Coordinator

Sara-Jayne Williams
Mental Capacity Act Coordinator
Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults Team
Bedford Borough Council
Borough Hall
Cauldwell Street
Bedford MK42 9AP

Tel: 01234 718342 (direct)

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