Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards and the Mental Capacity Act 2005

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 allows for a different set of processes to be used to remove a person's freedoms when someone does not have mental capacity to consent to that removal. These processes are called the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS).

Using some sections of the Mental Health Act may involve 'depriving a person of their liberty'- this means taking away some of their freedom.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 brought in a different set of processes to be used to ‘deprive a person of their liberty’ when they don’t have mental capacity to consent to that deprivation.

These processes are called the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS). DoLS might be followed if a person needs care that involves supervision and restriction.

There is overlap between DoLS and the Mental Health Act. This is a very complex area of law and is not always straightforward – particularly around whether it is most appropriate to follow DoLS or the Act.

Any deprivation of a person’s liberty must be proportionate to preventing them (not anyone else) from harm. It must also be in the person’s best interests.

The DoLS regime has recently also been reviewed by the government. The law is set to change in October 2020. The new system will be called the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS).

Find out about the current law on DoLS

Find out what a deprivation of liberty is and what Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are, including why they are needed and how they work. 

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)
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