The concept of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards was being considered when I first started working directly with the laws that concern our client group, so I will always have a particular fondness for them! For the first time, legislators were recognising the fact that we should not force people into care homes or any other environment when they are protesting loudly against that decision. Of course it was not satisfactory to section all these people under the Mental Health Act so they were falling into the ‘Bournewood Gap’, a phrase named after the court case that highlighted the issue. The Safeguards provide a system whereby the best interests of the person are assessed and recorded before a decision to deprive them of their liberty is formalised.
The Safeguards were formally introduced in 2009/10 and a recent NHS Centre report reveals the following about where we are today (taken from Journal of Legal Action Group February 2013):
There has been a year on year increase in the number of applications completed for deprivation of liberty safeguards since they were first introduced.
Dementia accounted for 53% of all applications.
The East Midlands had the highest rate of applications at 51 per 100,000 whilst London had the lowest rate at just 17 per 100,000.
When I have time (!) I will post some information about the cases that have come to Court since 2009 which are often the best indicators of how a new law is developing in practice.