- New Enquiries
National DoLs Court: a quarterly update
- AuthorJasmine Lees
Following on from the National Deprivation of Liberty (DoLs) Court being announced in July 2022, the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory have published data in relation to the use of such applications. Over the first 3 months, there has been 349 applications to deprive a child of their liberty over 107 local authorities and 7 hospital or mental health trusts. There most applications were made by Local Authorities in the North West of England, followed by those in London and then the South West of England.
What is DoLs?
A DoLs is considered as the taking away of a person’s freedom to restrict their movements or confine them to a particular place without the person’s consent, providing that responsibility to the State as per the case of Storck v Germany.
Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) is a key consideration with this type of application as “everyone has the right to liberty and security of a person” and a person should not be deprived of this unless “in accordance with a procedure prescribed in law”.
Any deprivation of a child’s liberty which has not been authorised by the Court are considered unlawful and will be a breach of the child’s human rights under Article 5 ECHR.
How may a child’s liberty be deprived?
A child may be restricted in terms of their movements by ensuring they remain in approved secure accommodation under s25 of the Children Act 1989. For their movements to be restricted, they would need to be a looked after child by virtue of an interim or full care order meaning that the Local Authority holds parental responsibility for that child and application would need to be made to the Family Court for authorisation.
Unfortunately, there is a shortage of approved secure accommodation placements within the UK, with research showing that “in 2020, just one in two children referred for a place in secure children’s home were found one”. There are also some children who’s needs are considered too complex for secure accommodation and therefore another placement including bespoke placements may need to be sourced.
Where s25 does not apply, there is a lack of suitable accommodation or the proposed placement for the child is not approved accommodation by the Secretary of State, Local Authorities can apply to the High Court under the inherent jurisdiction to restrict a child’s liberty and confine them to a particular accommodation.
The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory found that the majority of DoLs applications were made in relation to children aged 15 and above with a small amount made in relation to children under the age of 13. The applications related to slightly more girls than boys, but this was near equal.
Further information regarding DoLs can be found here.
How Johnson Astills can help
If you have been informed that the Local Authority have applied for an order to deprive your child’s liberty then please contact us for specialist advice. Please contact Johnson Astills at either our Leicester Office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough Office on 01509 610 312 and ask for a member of the Care Team so that we can advise you accordingly. Alternatively, please email us on email@example.com and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.