No-one should be denied human rights – scrap the DoLS

The Law Commission is a statutory, independent body set up to reform the law. We want to ensure that the law is as fair, modern, simple and cost-effective as possible. Three years ago, the Department of Health came to us with a problem.

A few months before, a Supreme Court decision called Cheshire West had had a massive impact on what is called the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). Sometimes people with conditions like dementia or learning disabilities need to be confined or made subject to restrictions in a place like a care home when it is in their best interests. For example, a person with dementia may be kept in their care home to prevent them from wandering off, which could put them in danger. This is known as a deprivation of liberty and an authorisation process – the DoLS – is meant to ensure checks are in place so this is done lawfully.

But Cheshire West changed the definition of who was considered to be deprived of their liberty. Now anyone living in a hospital, care home and even a private or family setting who is under constant supervision and not free to leave is considered deprived of their liberty; they must be given legal safeguards.

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