The deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS) and adult safeguarding

Date15 June 2012
Published date15 June 2012
AuthorDavid Hewitt
Subject MatterHealth & social care,Sociology
The deprivation of liberty safeguards
(DoLS) and adult safeguarding
David Hewitt
Purpose – This paper seeks to consider the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) and, in particular,
the extent to which the functions of supervisory bodies can, or should be, performed as part of wider
‘‘safeguarding’’ responsibilities.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper reports the views of practitioners, given in response to
comments made by the Care Quality Commission.
Findings – Some practitioners believe that DoLS and safeguarding functions should be consolidated,
and some, that they should remain discrete; most, however, accept that the two functions should work
closely together,and also that an understanding of the Mental Capacity Act is important for each; there is
a suspicion that DoLS-activity is greatest where the two functions are kept discrete (and, it is assumed,
DoLS practitioners therefore have more to prove); there is also concern about financing, particularly
within discrete DoLS services, and, furthermore, some suspicion about the whole business of
‘‘safeguarding’’; the Neary case continues to cast a long shadow.
Originality/value – This is believed to be the first time practitioners’ views have been sought or at least
published on this question.
Keywords Deprivation of liberty safeguards, Liberty, Safeguarding, Human rights, United Kingdom,
Mental health services
Paper type Research paper
The issue
In March 2011, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) published an overview of the
implementation and use of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) between
the beginning of April 2009 and the end of March 2010 (which was the first full year in which
the DoLS were operational).
In the course of that overview, the CQC examined the role played by ‘‘supervisory bodies’’
the local authorities or NHS primary care trusts responsible for receiving applications and,
possibly, granting authorisations for people to be deprived of liberty under the DoLS.
The CQC said something about the teams set up to perform that function, and in particular,
about where those teams were placed:
One recurring feature was the establishment of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards teams within
safeguarding teams. While this may appear sensible, it also raises some concerns. These
designated teams may be considering the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards as an extension of
the safeguarding role, potentially leading to staff not being mindful of the requirementfor theleast
restrictive practice. Furthermore, staff may also be unaware that it is inappropriate for someone to
be deprived of liberty as part of a safeguarding plan unless they arealso subject to Deprivation of
Liberty Safeguards assessments and authorisation. In recent case law a person (known as ‘‘E’’)
was unlawfully deprived of his liberty by the local authority, which had placed him in respite care
in response to safeguarding concerns. The local authority had failed to authorise the deprivation
DOI 10.1108/14668201211236331 VOL. 14 NO. 3 2012, pp. 131-141, QEmerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1466-8203
PAGE 131
David Hewitt is Judge of the
First-tier Tribunal and
Visiting Fellow at the
Universities of Northumbria,
Lincoln and Bournemouth
and is based in
Lancashire, UK.
The author thanks the,
necessarily nameless,
respondents for their generosity
and patience. He would also
like to thank Emad Lilo, whose
views are not among those
represented here, but whose
assistance has been

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