Deprivation of liberty safeguards: a practical guide

The deprivation of liberty safeguards (DoLS) protect people who do not have the mental capacity to consent to treatment.

They apply to people who lack mental capacity who live in a:

  • care home
  • hospital
  • supported living environment

The safeguards make sure that any treatment a person in that situation receives is appropriate and in their best interests.

Liberty Protection Safeguards

Under the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Act 2019, the DoLS will be replaced by the liberty protection safeguards (LPS).

In July 2022, the government held a consultation on the proposed changes to the Mental Capacity Act code of practice and implementation of the LPS.

Read our response to the consultation on the draft code that will clarify how the LPS will work in practice

DoLS guidance

We’ve issued guidance on the law relating to DoLS. It helps solicitors and people working in health and social care to identify when a deprivation of liberty may be taking place.

The guidance includes fictional scenarios to explain the law following the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of Cheshire West (2014). This judgment:

  • led to an increase in the number of people in England and Wales who are considered to be “deprived” of their liberty for the purposes of receiving care and treatment
  • emphasised the importance of regular, independent checks to make sure that decisions being made about people deprived of their liberty are in their best interests

Below, you can download the guidance in full or as individual chapters covering specific care settings.

Guidance documents

Full guidance document – Identifying a deprivation of liberty: a practical guide (PDF 1.3 MB)

Chapter 1 – introduction (PDF 648 KB)

Chapter 2 – the law (PDF 715 KB)

Chapter 3 – Cheshire West (PDF 681 KB)

Chapter 4 – the hospital setting (PDF 693 KB)

Chapter 5 – the psychiatric setting (PDF 671 KB)

Chapter 6 – the care home setting (PDF 686 KB)

Chapter 7 – the supported living setting (PDF 646 KB)

Chapter 8 – at home (PDF 644 KB)

Chapter 9 – under 18s (PDF 682 KB)

Chapter 10 – summaries of key cases (PDF 715 KB)

Chapter 11 – further resources (PDF 670 KB)

Quick reference guides

Read quick reference guides for specific care settings that highlight:

  • factors that may restrict a person’s liberty
  • questions to help you establish whether a person is being deprived of their liberty

The hospital setting

The psychiatric setting

The care home setting

The supported living setting

The home setting

Under 18s

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