On Wednesday I was invited to the House of Commons to give evidence to the cross party Human Rights Committee who are looking into the proposed changes to the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards. The panel consisted of me, Graham Enderby, Lucy Series and Alex Ruck Keene.
I think we gave a good account of ourselves and made several important points. Some of the questions seemed to me to be unfathomably vague but I guess that DoLS for you. If you’ve got the time and want to watch the session, you can find the recording here:
Since Wednesday I have been preoccupied with the following two thoughts:
1. Christ. Haven’t we come a long, mazy, crazy way since Bournwood? And
2. If only we had been able to get LBBill on the statute, we’d be in a much healthier place and wouldn’t be needing such a drastic revision of the current legislation.
My first thought relates to the time we spent at the Committee discussing the latest DoLS twist – the Community DoLS. This is where I had most to say and related the recent decision that Steven is being deprived of his liberty in his own home. As I’ve heard Graham say before, “DoLS used to be about getting people out. Now they’re about keeping people in”. I expressed my incredulity that the regime Steven was under in the ATU (seclusion, physical restraint, medication) is being compared and found the same outcome as his life now in the Cowley house.
The “safeguards” bit has been lost (if it ever existed in the first place). I go to many events where the safeguards are put in place to justify a detention or to enforce restrictions. That turns everything on its head though – it’s seen by the professional decision maker as a safeguard for their actions, not the poor sod who is subjected to them. It’s often down to the family or an advocate to argue that the safeguards are intended to protect the person being deprived and ultimately get them out and home.
But it’s lamenting the LBBill that saddens me the most. In case you’ve forgotten (and I’ve included the link below), the starting point of the LBBill was to make it more difficult for the State to remove someone from their home and start the whole deprivation of their liberty.
People don’t drop from the sky into a place where they are deprived of the liberty. They have a home, whatever form that takes. That home may be producing a good experience for them: it may be a not so good experience. Whatever, it is still their home. The State must be forced to demonstrate that it has a bloody good reason to take that person from their home and deprive them of their liberty elsewhere. This is a Human Rights issue and I sometimes think that the whole issue of capacity and “is the person actively objecting” a bit of a red herring. Does it matter whether the person is deemed to have capacity or not? They are still being removed from their home and it doesn’t get more serious than that. I still believe that the State needs to seek the authority of the Court before making such a life changing move.
If the LBBill was made legislation, then DoLS (or whatever their replacement might be) would be a lot simpler. The whole issue of whether someone needs to be deprived of their liberty would be addressed BEFORE it happens. It would provide sufficient checks and balances BEFORE someone is wrenched from their home. All the palavar around capacity, best interests, least restrictive options would be covered BEFORE the deprivation occurs and the whole process would be properly scrutinised.
That’s what I think anyway.
I’ll end on a trivial note. I’ve received quite a bit of feedback from people who tuned in on Wednesday. My favourite is from an old friend I used to train with about 10 years ago:
“Wow mate. You were occupying a fair bit of space in that chair. Looking stacked dude”.
“You’re so vain. You probably think this committee is about you”.