Skip to main content

Prevalence of deprivation of liberty: a survey of in-patient services

  • Thomas Selmes (a1), Julie Robinson (a2), Elizabeth Mills (a1), Tim Branton (a2) and Jeff Barlow (a2)...
Aims and method

A trust-wide survey of all in-patients to estimate the prevalence of likely deprivation of liberty and to investigate how two different approaches to measuring deprivation might affect the number identified.


A notable difference in the results was detected when comparing the two methods. One survey method identified deprivation of liberty factors in 84% of informal incapacitous patients, whereas a different approach that weighed up the factors in accordance with the UK government's interpretation of the case law detected only 11% as potential cases.

Clinical implications

To be usefully implemented, the deprivation of liberty safeguards require an accurate method of assessment in order to target those the process is designed to protect. This survey demonstrates the difficulties in defining deprivation of liberty and highlights the issue of how it is best measured.

Corresponding author
Julie Robinson (
Hide All

See editorial pp. 217–220 and special articles pp. 243–247, this issue.

Declaration of interest


Hide All
1 Guzzardi v. Italy (1980) 13 EHRR 333.
2 HL v. United Kingdom (2005) 7 EHRR 528.
3 LLBG v. TG (2007) EWHT 2640 (Fam).
4 Nielsen v. Denmark (1989) 11 EHRR 175.
5 HM v. Switzerland (2002) 157 ECHR 39187/98.
6 JE and DE v. Surrey County Council (2006) EWHC 3459 (Fam).
7 Storck v. Germany (2005) 10 ECHR 61603/00.
8 Ministry of Justice. Mental Capacity Act 2005, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, Code of Practice to supplement the main Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice. TSO (The Stationery Office), 2008.
9 Jones, R. Mental Health Act Manual. Sweet and Maxwell, 2008.
10 Department of Health. MCA DOLS News. Department of Health, 2008.
11 Lepping, P. The Bournewood gap is not as wide as it sometimes seems. Psychiatr Bull 2008; 32: 153.
12 Ministry of Justice, Department of Health. Impact Assessment of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards to Accompany the Code of Practice and Regulations. Ministry of Justice, 2008.
13 Zigmond, A. Deprivation of liberty safeguards and the Mental Capacity Act. BMJ 2009; 338: 1888.
14 GJ v. The Foundation Trust, The PCT, The Secretary of State for Health (2009) EWHC 2972 (Fam).
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 1758-3209
  • EISSN: 1758-3217
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 6 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 27 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 2nd January 2018 - 26th May 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Prevalence of deprivation of liberty: a survey of in-patient services

  • Thomas Selmes (a1), Julie Robinson (a2), Elizabeth Mills (a1), Tim Branton (a2) and Jeff Barlow (a2)...
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *