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Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) were introduced in April 2009, they are part of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

They provide legal protection for vulnerable people who lack the capacity to make decisions in respect of care and treatment they may need. For example they may not be allowed to leave the hospital or care home setting or they may require 24 hour continuous supervision.

The DoLS ensure that deprivation of liberty only happens under very specific conditions and only when it is in someone’s best interests.

The standards aim to make sure people are looked after in a way that does not inappropriately restrict their freedom and applies to people who:

  • are aged 18 or over
  • have a mental disorder such as dementia or a learning disability
  • lack the capacity to consent to where their treatment or care is given
  • need to have their liberty taken away in their own best interests to protect them from harm

The standards ensure that no one is deprived of their liberty without good reason, and that a person still has specific rights.

Every person deprived of their liberty under the terms of the MCA Deprivation of Liberty Standards (DoLS) must have a Relevant Persons Representative (RPR). This representative protects their interests throughout the process.

The role of the RPR is to:

  • maintain contact with the person being deprived of their liberty
  • represent and support that person in all matters relating to the DoLS. This would include (if appropriate) requesting a review, using an organisation’s complaints procedure on the person’s behalf or making an application to the Court of Protection
  • provide support that is independent of the relevant person’s commissioners and service providers

The DoLS means that care homes or hospitals must obtain authorisation for someone to be deprived of their liberty.

If someone is at risk of being deprived of their liberty, or is already being deprived of their liberty, the registered care home manager or hospital must apply for authorisation of the deprivation of liberty to the relevant supervisory body using the Council’s portal (opens in new window).


The website has more information about Independent Mental Capacity Advocacy (opens in new window) and The Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice (opens in new window).

Last updated: 6/22/2020

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