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National deprivation of liberty court: Latest data trends – June 2023

Date:7 AUG 2023
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In July 2022, the President of the Family Division launched the national deprivation of liberty court. Based at the Royal Courts of Justice, it deals with all new applications seeking authorisation to deprive children of their liberty under the inherent jurisdiction and will run for a 12-month pilot phase initially. Nuffield Family Justice Observatory was invited to collect and publish data on these applications.

Since July 2022, Nuffield FJO have published monthly briefings highlighting high level data trends: July and August, September, October, November, December, January, February, MarchApril and May.

This briefing highlights high-level data trends during the full 12 months of the court pilot.

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Key findings include:

  • During the 12 months July 2022 to July 2023, the national DoL court issued a total of 1389 applications.
  • In some cases, a ‘repeat’ application is issued for the same child – for example, to extend or vary an existing order (e.g. if the child moves placement or additional restrictions on their liberty are sought). There have been 147 ‘repeat’ applications or cases that involve the same child. This means that a total of 1249 children have been subject to DoL applications at the national DoL court since 4 July (including a very small number of applications for sibling groups). 
  • On average, there have been 117 applications per month, with the highest number of applications issued in August 2022 (136 applications). In the most recent month, June 2023, there were 98 applications. 
  • The applications were made by 158 different local authorities and 18 other applicants (usually hospital or mental health trusts). Those issued by hospital trusts are usually to authorise restrictions of children’s liberty in hospital when the child may not be in the care of the local authority, or where the local authority is also a party in the case.
  • The majority of children (59.4%) involved in applications were aged 15 and above, with a small minority relating to children under the age of 13 (9.2%).

You can read the full report here.