The number of Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) applications has increased tenfold in the past year, official statistics show.
There were 137,540 DoLS applications received by councils between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015, the most since the safeguards were introduced in 2009, according to figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). This is a tenfold increase from 2013/14, where there were only 13,700 applications.
This huge increase in applications is a result of the ‘Cheshire West’ decision in March 2014, when a Supreme Court judgement in the cases of P v Cheshire West and Chester Council and P&Q v Surrey County Council lowered the threshold for what constitutes a deprivation of liberty.
HSCIC figures show that 62,645 applications were completed by councils during the year, almost five times as many as the previous highest volume – 13,040 in 2013-14. The number of completed applications has increased every year since DoLS were introduced in 2009.
There were 52,125 granted applications in 2014-15, 83% of all completed applications. This was the highest percentage granted since DoLS were introduced. Between 2010 and 2014 between 55% and 60% of applications were granted.
In 2014-15, there were 147 completed applications per 100,000 adults in England. However, application rates varied considerably by region, with a rate of 389 applications per 100,000 adults in the Northeast, whereas the other eight regions had between 110 (East Midlands) and 150 applications per 100,000.
The Northeast also had the highest percentage of applications approved (93%). All other regions saw at least 80% of applications granted, apart from the Southwest, which had only 61% approved.
The most frequent reasons for an application to not be granted were not satisfying the mental capacity requirement (cited in 2,895 applications) and the best interests assessment (2,525 applications).
There were 122,775 individuals with an active DoLS application in 2014-15. People can have multiple DoLS applications made on their behalf in a year and 12,005 individuals (10%) had at least two DoLS applications in 2014-15.
Currently, the Law Commission is undertaking a review of mental capacity and deprivation of liberty and produced a consultation paper earlier in the summer. Deadline for responses is November 2.