Related Sector: Health & Social Care

The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (NFJO) recently reported that the National Deprivation of Liberty (DoL) Court received 237 applications in July and August to authorise the deprivation of liberty of a child or young person. The figures suggest that this is around 40 per cent of the 579 total in 2021, and more than double the total number of applications for 2018.

Whilst these are concerning statistics, NFJO researcher, Alice Roe has advised against interpreting the figures to indicate an upward trend, stating that:

‘It is difficult to know if our findings from the first two months of the national DoL court are representative of an overall increase in applications… as we continue to collect data over the next few months, we will be able to get a better picture of how the number of applications compares to previous records.’’

The Court was founded by leading family judge, Sir Andrew McFarlane to exclusively handle all the new family court applications for orders authorising the deprivation of a child’s liberty. It arose out of the need to develop a forum with specific expertise in dealing with the ‘important, sensitive work and the continued growth in the number of [DoL] applications to the family courts.’ The Court is held remotely, with two family High Court or deputy High Court judges allocated to the court each week, supported by a dedicated administrative team.

Its launch coincided with the case of Bolton Council v KL [2022] EWCOP 24 (21 June 2022), which highlighted the need for an overarching scrutiny of the data involving DoL applications to better understand the care needs of children and young people as they transition into adulthood, as well as providing a more transparent and uniform judicial process for DoL applications for children.

As more data is made available on the types, volume, and outcomes of the DoL cases concerning children and young people, it will be interesting to see to what extent the intentions behind and objectives for the creation of the National DoL Court are satisfied.

Although the implementation date of the Liberty Protection Safeguards has yet to be officially announced, it is essential that those working with young people have a full understanding of the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty and can apply in their day-to-day practice. Please find a link to our MCA and DoL for Children and Young People course here.

This is a perfect course to help those working with young people gain an understanding in preparation of the LPS coming into force.

For those at your organisation that are tasked with leading the LPS implementation, please find our course overview for LPS Workshop for Leaders here

Author: Meera Shah, Content Manager

This article was first published in October 2022

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