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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) came into force in England and Wales in April 2009 under amendments to the Mental Capacity Act 2005.  The safeguards provide legal protection for vulnerable people who may be deprived of their liberty in a hospital, care home or in a community setting.

The safeguards are intended to:

  • protect people who lack mental capacity from being detained when this is not in their best interests
  • prevent arbitrary detention
  • give people the right to challenge a decision
  • provides rights of representation.


A person is deprived of their liberty if they are:

  • not free to leave a care home or hospital
  • subject to continuous supervision and control
  • unable to consent to the above arrangement due to lack of mental capacity.

Care home or hospital settings

If it is necessary to detain or restrain a person who is staying in a care home or hospital, the law states that the care home or hospital must apply to the local authority to register a lawful deprivation of liberty.

Other settings in the community

For people in supported living arrangements, such as supported housing or in their own home where they receive care and support from the local authority, there is a separate process for authorising a deprivation of liberty.  In these settings, the local authority must obtain authority from the Court of Protection.

DoLS and COVID-19

During the coronavirus pandemic, the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) and the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (under which Act DoLS came into force in 2009) still apply fully.  Also, DoLS is not affected by COVID-19 legislation and the majority of the assessments are being undertaken remotely.

Camden remains committed to providing vulnerable people the safeguards they require and this is particularly important when it comes to Deprivation of Liberty safeguards (DoLS).

If you believe someone may be deprived of their liberty within a care home setting, or community setting, speak to the person who is responsible for their care, or  contact Camden Council’s Access and Response Team on 020 7974 4000 (option 1) for further advice.

Useful resources

Alzheimer’s Society provide information about Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

Website: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-support/legal-financial/deprivation-liberty-safeguards-dols

Age UK have a downloadable factsheet about Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.  Also, you can find factsheets and information guides on other topics on their website.

Download the DoLS factsheet

Website: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/services/information-advice/guides-and-factsheets/

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