Mental Capacity Act (2005) Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (England) 2016/17 shows the number of applications completed was 152,000 – an increase of 45 per cent on 2015/16 when 105,000 were completed.
These figures show that four new applications were being made for every three being completed.
A 2014 Supreme Court ruling in the case known as the ‘Cheshire West case’3 had the effect of lowering the threshold for what constituted ‘deprivation of liberty’. This has been a contributing factor to a higher number of DoLS applications over the last three years.
The report shows large regional variations4 for overall applications received, the proportion of applications deemed urgent, and the average time from receipt of application to sign off:
The North East region had 995 DoLS applications per 100,000 of the adult population, more than double the England-wide average of 492 applications per 100,000 adults.
A contributing factor to this higher rate was supervisory bodies in the North East granting authorisations for a shorter period of time, requiring more frequent applications as each authorisation runs out. The proportion of authorisations signed off that were planned to last less than 90 days was highest in the North East at 24 per cent compared to 8 per cent in the East Midlands where it was the lowest, and 17 per cent nationally.
Proportion of applications classified as urgent5
There was a wide variation in the proportion of applications that were classified as urgent, ranging from 33 per cent in the London region to 71 per cent in the East Midlands. At a local authority level, the variations are wider still, ranging from 4 per cent at Wakefield Council to 93 per cent at South Gloucestershire Council. The average nationally was 50 per cent.
Application time frames
The average number of days from applications being received to being completed across England was 120 days, but there were wide variations across regions. East Midlands had the highest average number of days per application at 211 days, with councils there averaging between 83 days (Derby City Council) and 319 days (Lincolnshire County Council).
The region with the lowest average number of days per application was the North East where the average application took 53 days to complete, with councils there averaging between 12 days (Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council) and 205 days (Northumberland County Council).