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Liberty Protection Safeguards: Government Interim response to the Law Commission report on Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty

Today the Government published an interim response to the Law Commission report on Mental Capacity and Deprivation of Liberty. The statement was made by Jackie Doyle-Price, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health.

The Government have welcomed the report and it is now being carefully considered. Part of that consideration is to consult various stakeholders to understand how the changes can be implemented. The Government, ‘will also consider what enabling actions need to be taken to support the Mental Capacity Act ethos of greater empowerment and care centred around people, their wishes and aspirations’.

The statement concludes by saying that the Government will provide its final response to the Law Commission report in Spring 2018.

Without reading too much into a brief statement, it would appear that the Government is all set to accept the proposals to a lesser or greater extent and there will be some key questions that need exploring. None less, in my opinion, than frontline social work and care management. I wholeheartedly agree that the process of making best interest decisions and considering whether it is in a person’s best interests to be deprived of their liberty should occur before it actually happens. Placing it at the start of the care management process will certainly make it more person-centred and leave people with, in many cases, more options.

However, it will only work with enough resources provided to those commissioning care. At the moment, the responsibility lies on the shoulders of local authorities as supervisory bodies although that may change and hospital trusts and clinical commissioning groups may also share the responsibility.

Since the case that is known as, ‘the Cheshire West case’, the use of independent Best Interest Assessors has soared to assess people deprived of liberty many months or even years ago. How that will be resourced to ensure that all future assessments happen in a timely fashion will be an interesting development.