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Mental Capacity Act (MCA)

We all make decisions about lots of things in our lives, this ability is called mental capacity. 

For a number of reasons, people may, on occasions, have difficulties making all, or some, decisions. People in this situation may be considered to be lacking capacity for that specific decision.

On these pages you can find out about the Mental Capacity Act, a new Act guiding decision making for people who are lacking capacity. 

You can also access our policies and procedures and links to a variety of websites that can provide further information, help, support and advice.

What is the Mental Capacity Act?

The Mental Capacity Act is a law that came into force in 2007. The Act was introduced to help people plan for a future loss of capacity, and to protect vulnerable people over the age of 16, who currently are unable to make all (or some) decisions due to a lack of capacity. 

A lack of capacity may be due to a:

  • learning disability
  • mental health problem
  • brain injury
  • dementia
  • alcohol or drug misuse
  • side effects of medical treatment or any other illness or disability

What relevance does the MCA have for us?

The Mental Capacity Act places a legal requirement on all Health and Social Care practitioners, in all directorates, who work directly with service users. 

The Act introduces a criminal offence against any person who either ill treats and/or is wilfully neglects  a person lacking capacity, with potential fines and imprisonment.  

What is the Council doing?

Bedford Borough Council is working with partner agencies to put the Act into operation through:

  • Provision of the new Independent Advocacy Service (IMCA) for Bedford Borough and Luton in partnership with POhWER the advocacy service
  • Producing information on the Act for the Borough and all partner agencies.
  • Guidance and training for staff working for the council and other agencies.

Mental Capacity Act contacts

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)

Fax: 01234 276076


When requesting assessments in accordance with MCA Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) please email:

Links to further information on MCA

The Office of Public Guardian is an agency with responsibilities for England and Wales. It supports the registration of Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), and the supervision of deputies appointed by the Court of Protection.

POhWER  provide Independent Mental Capacity Advocates for Bedford Borough. This is a specific form of advocacy that was introduced in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

This Act gave some people who have been assessed to lack capacity the right to be supported by an IMCA if certain decisions are being made about their care. The IMCA role is independent of the NHS and local authorities.