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Spike in DoLS applications causes consternation

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Figures have revealed that care homes have made a record number of applications to deprive a resident of their liberty.

A total of 195,840 such applications were submitted to local authorities under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) framework in 2015/16.

This was the highest number since the system was first implemented in 2009 and a significant increase on the 137,540 applications lodged in the 12 months previously.

One of the concerns is that often by the time the application is considered, action has already been taken. This is particularly troubling given the many thousands of cases where the deprivation of liberty is ultimately deemed “inappropriate.”

Martina Kane, a senior policy officer at the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “The safeguards granted by DoLS are an essential part of protecting the right to liberty of people with dementia.

“It is disgraceful that nearly 30,000 people were wrongfully deprived of their liberty, and in over a quarter of cases practitioners are still locking people in, sedating them, restraining them or otherwise treating them as second-class citizens.

“Depriving someone of their liberty should always be a last resort and only ever done in someone’s best interests. It is crucial that the quality of care provided to people with dementia is improved to ensure that.”

The Local Government Association (LGA) has also raised concerns about the flood of applications, arguing that authorities need to be assured they will receive adequate funding so that appropriate time and resources can be directed at the task.

At Lester Morrill, our specialist Court of Protection solicitors are experienced in working with vulnerable individuals and their families, friends and care teams to ensure the best possible outcome. We currently manage cases involving private clients, solicitors, local authorities, referrals from the court and case managers. We also advise on matters relating to health and welfare, receiving referrals from family members and advocates. Please contact our team for further information.

The Police Federation agreed that more accurate crime data had influenced the figures, although members do not believe this tells the whole story.

Nick Smart, who chairs the organisation’s West Yorkshire branch, said: “Having lost 1,200 plus West Yorkshire police officers in five years, or 20 per cent of the police workforce, an increase in crime is also partly due to less officer visibility and deterrent.”

At Lester Morrill, our criminal law team has experience advising those facing a range of charges. For advice on all your options, please contact our Leeds-based solicitors today.