Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

The Mental Capacity Act says a person's liberty can only be taken away if it is in their best interest under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Liberty means being free to do the things you want to do and live where you want to live.

Deprivation of liberty means taking someone's freedom away.

When can someone be deprived of their liberty?

Someone else may think that they need to take your freedom away to give you the care or treatment you need. If you're able to make an informed choice about this, it is your right to say no. The only time when your informed choice might be over-ridden is if you need to be detained under the Mental Health Act.

Deprivation of liberty could take place anywhere - in a care home or hospital, but also in your own home.

If you're unable to make an informed choice, the law says that whoever is looking after you cannot take your freedom away without independent checks that this is the best thing for you.

This law is set out in the Mental Health Act (NHS) and the Mental Capacity Act (NHS).

What are the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards?

The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards are a system of checks found in the Mental Capacity Act. They apply in registered care homes and hospitals. They're needed to make sure that someone aged 18 or over, who has a mental disorder and is not able to decide to stay in a care home or hospital, really needs to have their freedom taken away to keep them safe from harm.

Two different people will carry out the assessments: a doctor and a trained Best Interests Assessor. If they agree that the deprivation of liberty is necessary, an 'authorisation' is given to the care home or hospital by the council.

A person's rights under a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards authorisation

The person whose freedom has been taken away will always have a representative to speak up on their behalf. This could be a family member, friend or someone trained to do this as a paid professional.

They also have the right to ask for a review from the council, or to appeal the authorisation by asking a Court of Protection judge to look at their case.

See GOV.UK guidance on Deprivation of Liberty orders

Challenge unlawful deprivation of liberty

If you believe that a friend or family member is being deprived of their liberty without the appropriate authorisation in place you must inform the hospital or care home.

If the hospital or care home does not take appropriate action you can write to the Supervisory Body. For most people in hospital or a care home in Essex this will be Essex County Council.

Please speak to your social worker, if you have one, or call us.


Contact Adult Social Care

Telephone: 0345 603 7630 Textphone: 0345 758 5592

Monday to Thursday, 8:45am to 5pm Friday, 8:45am to 4:30pm

Out of hours telephone: 0345 606 1212


Not in a registered care home or hospital

If someone may need to be deprived of their liberty in somewhere other than a care home or hospital (for example in their own home), this situation is not covered by the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

You will need to apply to the Court of Protection. Find out about applying for authorisation on GOV.UK.

Request an assessment (registered providers only)

To request an assessment under the Mental Capacity Act DoLS legislation, registered providers (care homes, nursing homes or hospitals) should download Form 1: standard and urgent request from GOV.UK.

Completed forms should be sent to:

Contact the Adult Safeguarding team

Telephone: 0333 0135 888



Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Team Adult Safeguarding and Quality Assurance Adult Social Care Essex County Council Chelmsford Essex CM1 1QH

If deprivation of liberty occurs in any other setting, any concerned individual should contact Adult Social Care.

More information

Deprivation of liberty safeguards resources on GOV.UK