In recent years there has been a marked increase in the use of the inherent jurisdiction of the family court to deprive children of their liberty. In these cases restrictions are placed on a child’s liberty beyond what would normally be expected for a child of the same age. This may include them being kept in a locked environment that they are not free to leave being kept under continuous supervision and being subject to restraint or medical treatment without consent.
In response the President of the Family Division launched a national Deprivation of Liberty (DoL) court at the Royal Courts of Justice which is running for a pilot period of 12 months from July 2022. All applications to deprive children of their liberty under the inherent jurisdiction are issued at the national DoL court. The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory (‘NFJO’) was invited to research cases in the DoL court which has enabled us for the first time to build a national picture about the number of applications and children involved.
But until now there has been little understanding of who...
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