Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS)

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The Mental Capacity Act is a law which came into force in 2007. Following this in April 2009, amendments to the legislation covering the support and care of people who lack mental capacity ( Mental Capacity Act 2005), also came into force.

These amendments are known as Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards or DOLS, and introduced new responsibilities and legal duties on registered care homes and hospital in patient services.

Depriving someone of their liberty

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

There are some people who may have been admitted to or live in a hospital or care home who are unable to make some decisions about their care and treatment. This is because they lack capacity and need extra care and protection to ensure they don't suffer harm. It may mean restricting their freedom. 

Sometimes restrictions have to be placed on people for their own safety. These could range from locking a door to physically restraining someone. At some point the restrictions become known as a deprivation of liberty.

Due to the recent changes in legislation, hospitals and care homes are required to submit a DoLS referral for someone that is being deprived of their liberty.

The Local Authority must:

  • assess the person concerned to see if depriving them of their liberty is in their best interests
  • authorise a deprivation of liberty for a limited time up to a maximum of 12 months
  • put conditions in place to ensure a person's welfare
  • ensure the person has a relative, friend or advocate to keep in touch, support them, and ask for a review of the authorisation when necessary

There is an appeals process through the Court of Protection.

Concerns about a person deprived of their liberty

If you are concerned about a person who has been deprived of their liberty you should discuss this with the hospital or care home. They may explain the issue. If you are still concerned, contact the local authority to ask for a review of the situation.

Useful forms

You can request an Urgent Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, Request a Standard Authorisation or a Further Standard Authorisation and 7 day Urgent Extension online. We have guidance notes on how to submit an online DoLS request.

Requesting a DoLS or a DoLS extension


Contact details

For Poole residents please contact the DoLS service on 01202 118700 or email

Page last updated: 16 August 2021
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