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Mental Health: Use of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards continues to rise

August 20, 2013: The number of safeguard applications to deprive people of their liberty has risen for the third year running new figures show.

*HSCIC must be credited as the source of the figures in this release

*Regional information available from this report 

Nearly 12,000 Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications were made in 2012/13 (11,890). This is a four per cent increase on 2011/12 (11,380) - a slower rate of increase than in previous years.

The 2012/13 figure represents a 66 per cent increase on 2009/10 (7,160), the first year of DoLS.

DoLS give a legal framework for depriving someone of their liberty when there is no other way to care for them or safely provide treatment and where they are unable to give informed consent regarding their care.

Applications are generally made by a care home or hospital to the responsible local authority or primary care trust (which were still operating during the most recent year of data).

Today's report shows that in 2012/13:

  • Just over half of applications (55 per cent, or 6,550) were granted - a similar figure to the previous two years (56 per cent in 2011/12 and 55 per cent in 2010/11) but higher than in 2009/10 (46 per cent).
  • Dementia was recorded as the primary disability of the person in just over half (54 per cent) of all applications.
  • Of the applications refused by responsible bodies, over four in five (80 per cent) were because a "best interests" assessment had not been met.
  • 28.3 applications were made per 100,000 people aged 18 and over with application rates rising with age - from 9.6 per 100,000 people aged 18 to 64, to 265.3 per 100,000 people aged 85 and over.2

The report can be accessed at:


Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) was established on April 1 2013 as an Executive Non Departmental Public Body (ENDPB). It is England's trusted data source, delivering high quality information and IT systems to drive better patient services, care and outcomes. Its work includes publishing more than 130 statistical publications annually; providing a range of specialist data services; managing informatics projects and programmes and developing and assuring national systems against appropriate contractual, clinical safety and information standards.
  2. Population rates for 2012/13 have been calculated using the latest available data at the time of data preparation for publication: ONS Mid-2012 population estimates are used to calculate rates by age band, sex and region; the 2011 Census is used to calculate rates by ethnic group, and religion or belief. Population rates for 2012/13 have been calculated using the latest available data at the time of data preparation for publication: ONS Mid-2012 population estimates are used to calculate rates by age band, sex and region; the 2011 Census is used to calculate rates by ethnic group, and religion or belief.
  3. Total numbers in brackets have been rounded to the nearest 10. Percentages have been rounded to the nearest whole number and rates per 100,000 people to the nearest 0.1.
  4. The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (MCA DoLS), which came into force on 1 April 2009, provides a legal framework to prevent the unlawful deprivation of a person's liberty occurring and were introduced into the Mental Capacity Act 2005 through the use of the Mental Health Act 2007.
  5. The arrangements protect people who are vulnerable to abuse and poor care whilst residing in a hospital or care home (across statutory, independent and voluntary sectors) through the use of a standardised assessment and authorisation process. They protect those who lack capacity to consent to arrangements made for their care and/or treatment but who need to be deprived of their liberty for their own best interests to protect them from harm. They also offer the person concerned the right to challenge any decision to deprive them of liberty, a representative to act for them and protect their interests and the right to have their status reviewed and monitored on a regular basis.
  6. A standard authorisation for a person to be deprived of their liberty requires an application within the legislation. The process applies to people aged 18 and above who suffer from a mental disorder of the mind (such as dementia or a profound learning disability) and who lack capacity to give consent to the arrangements made for their care and / or treatment. The safeguards cover people in hospitals and care homes registered under the Care Standards Act 2000. An assessment is initiated by a managing authority, which is either a care home or a hospital. Managing authorities submit a request for an authorisation to a supervisory body, which are local authorities for care homes and primary care trusts (PCTs) for hospitals. Standard authorisation assessments where no urgent authorisation is already in place must be completed (processed) within 21 days. Where an urgent authorisation already exists it must be completed within seven days or, in exceptional circumstances, within 14 days if an extension is granted by the supervisory body. The outcome of a completed assessment is that it is either granted or not granted. If it is granted, the person is subject to an authorisation and is deprived of their liberty. A single authorisation may be granted for any length of time up to a year. A person can have multiple authorisations requested which, due to changing circumstances, may result in different outcomes.
  7. An authorisation may not be granted for a number of different reasons. It could be that since the initial request for an authorisation was made the circumstances surrounding the person have changed.
  8. For further information about DOLS go to
  9. The data are collected by Primary Care Trusts (PCT) and Local Authorities (LA's) and reported at England, Regional and Organisational levels to preserve individual confidentiality.
  10. For media enquiries or interview requests please contact the press office on 0845 257 6990 or
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