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Support for adults

Deprivation of Liberty

The Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty safeguards were introduced into the Mental Capacity Act in 2007.

The safeguards apply to anyone who:

  • aged 18 and over
  • is accommodated in a care home or hospital registered with the Care Quality Commission
  • suffers from a mental disorder or disability – such as dementia or a learning disability
  • does not have the capacity to give informed consent to the arrangements made for their care and treatment
  • is not able to comply with those arrangements
  • depriving them of their liberty is considered, after an independent assessment, to be necessary in their best interests to protect them from harm

The safeguards are designed to protect the interests of an extremely vulnerable group of service users and to:

  • ensure people can be given the care they need in the least restrictive way
  • prevent arbitrary decisions which deprive vulnerable people of their liberty
  • provide safeguards for vulnerable people
  • provide them with rights of challenge against unlawful detention
  • avoid unnecessary bureaucracy

We have:

The Department of Health has produced Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: A guide for primary care trusts and local authorities

The Law Society has issued comprehensive guidance on the law relating to the deprivation of liberty safeguards, using case scenarios to explain the law. There is also a podcast which covers the key points and the practical effects.

Best Interests Assessors

Best Interest Assessors (BIAs) were introduced in April 2009. They do person-centred assessments to determine whether an application to deprive a person of their liberty meets the legal criteria and is in the person’s best interests, as outlined in the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. In Devon we have a policy and process for Bests Interests Assessors.

If you are concerned that somebody is being deprived of their liberty you can contact the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Team for information and advice on 01392 381676 or email


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