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Human Rights Committee launches inquiry into reform of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards

Written submissions sought from interested parties

The Joint Committee on Human Rights has launched an inquiry into reform of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.

The Committee notes that hundreds of thousands of people who lack mental capacity (for example, they may have severe autism or dementia or brain injury) are looked after in settings where they are continually supervised and not free to come and go.

In March 2014, in the landmark Cheshire West case [2014] UKSC 19 the Supreme Court ruled that Article 5 of the ECHR (right to liberty and security) applied in such cases and their care should be subject to lawful authorisation.

As a result, the number of applications for Deprivation of Liberty safeguards has increased from 13,700 in the year before the judgment to 195,840 in 2015-16. Full implementation of the current administrative and legal requirements for everyone affected could cost over £2bn per year.

The Supreme Court said that a lighter touch system would be appropriate, and in March 2017 the Law Commission made proposals for reform, but four years on from the judgment nothing has changed.

Harriet Harman, Chair of the Committee, said:

"The Committee wants to know – does the system protect people's rights or is it working against them?"

In order to inform the Committee's deliberations, it is issuing an open call for evidence from interested parties and would welcome written submissions by Friday 2 March on:? 

For more information about the inquiry and how to submit evidence, click here.