Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS)

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) exists to safeguard individuals when a deprivation of liberty is an unavoidable part of a best interests care plan. Individuals who are identified as potentially deprived of their liberty must be considered on a case-by-case basis and all appropriate steps taken to remove the risk of a deprivation of liberty where possible.

DOLS provide legal protection for those vulnerable people who are, or may become, deprived of their liberty within the meaning of Article 5 of the European  Convention on the Human Rights (ECHR) in a hospital or care home, whether placed under public or private arrangements. The safeguards exist to provide a legal framework and protection in circumstances where deprivation of liberty appears to be unavoidable in a person’s best interests.

Following the Supreme Court Judgement 2014, there was a significant change in what may constitute a DOLS authorisation. Professionals must remember that DOLS authorisations and Court of Protection orders are rooted in the principles of MCA.

For further information of the Supreme Court Judgement please see our guidance notes below.


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The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DOLS) arrangements introduced the professional role of Best Interests Assessor (BIA). BIAs are required to undertake best interests assessments on behalf of Kent County Council as the supervisory body, for vulnerable adults who lack capacity and who are deprived of their liberty. BIAs must already have a suitable professional qualification as a registered social worker, approved mental health professional, nurse, occupational therapist or chartered psychologist.

Kent County Council practitioners who are selected for this training will be undertaking the first Law and Policy module at Canterbury Christ Church University, following which students will sit their law exam and undertake the second Practice Placement module including shadowing BIA assessments.

How to apply

No new training courses are being planned.

Find and book alternative MCA/DOLS courses.

The Supreme Court provided a very important judgment on 19 March 2014 in relation to deprivation of liberty which is of major importance to social services and health departments. In both cases of Cheshire West and P&Q, the Supreme Court disagreed with the previous decisions of the Court of Appeal, and has declared that the living arrangements of all 3 individuals constitute a deprivation of liberty.

The Department of Health have issued a letter to all professionals and care providers involved with MCA and DOLS work.

Law guidance notes

National guidance

Easy read guidance

Updated service briefings, practice guidance and notes Kent County Council have produced.

Project DOLS - July 2018

Project DOLS is a two year project beginning 23 July 2018 to deal with historic, low-priority, DOLS applications. Any priority DOLS application must follow the existing process.

The project will be managed by the Kent Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Service (MCA DOLS).

Contact Project DOLS at or by phone on 03000 410221 to make changes to the status of previous applications.

Project DOLS will be working with a new provider, ICS Assessment Service, who will contact all providers after 23 July 2018 to introduce themselves.

Kent County Council and Medway Council have separate DOLS (Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards) services for receiving and processing DOLS applications.

For DOLS advice and support (or to send in a DOLS assessment or authorisation form) for people who are ordinarily resident in Kent, contact:

Phone: 03000 415777
Fax: 03000 422758

Kent Mental Capacity Act Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards Service
Kent County Council
4th Floor Invicta House
County Road
Kent ME14 1XX

Always phone to tell us before sending us any paperwork. We are open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

For people who are ordinarily resident in Medway, contact:

Medway DOLS Service
Phone: 01634 331188
Fax: 01634 331866