IMPORTANT UPDATE: COVID-19

In the last two years, the number of children who have had restrictions placed on their freedom has tripled in England and Wales. This includes Deprivation of Liberty orders, which are being increasingly used to detain children in situations where appropriate accommodation cannot be found.

Deprivation of Liberty orders are often used for adults who lack mental capacity to consent to changes in their care, however, they are being increasingly used in respect of children and young people as safeguarding measures with no relation to mental capacity. More than a quarter of orders granted within the last five years were made as a result of concerns regarding the child or young person going missing.

The orders are generally secured from the High Court or the Court of Protection by the Local Authority in which the child or young person resides. They cover a variety of restrictions, from detaining a child or young person, to taking away their mobile phone.

A recent example of a child being detained of their liberty includes that of a 13-year-old, who was placed in a rented council house. The order enabled the child to be locked in a bedroom at night, stripped of all loose items and restrained when any attempts to self-harm, hurt staff or escape were made. The judgement acknowledged these restrictions were “draconian” but highlighted how 30 applications for a place in a secure unit had been declined.

Freedom of information responses from 91 of 170 local authorities show that the frequency of Deprivation of Liberty orders for children and young people increased from 43 in 2016-17 to 134 in 2018-19, the majority of these relating to children in care.

Article 5 of the Human Rights Act 1998 states that ‘everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be deprived of his or her liberty [unless] in accordance with a procedure prescribed in law’.

Our Abuse team at Ramsdens Solicitors, headed by Natalie Marrison, are experienced in representing Claimants who have been wrongfully deprived of their liberty. For a confidential discussion, please call 0113 8871 834 or email natalie.marrison@ramsdens.co.uk....we're here to help.