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

Between July 2022 and April 2023, the national deprivation of liberty court (DoL) issued a total of 1,139 applications.

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, They have published a monthly briefing including high level data trends. This new briefing highlights the data related to the first ten months of the court pilot.

In some cases, a “repeat” application is issued within the same case – for example, to extend an existing order or to vary the current order (e.g., if the child moves placement or additional restrictions on their liberty are sought). So far, there have been 76 “repeat” applications.

This means that a total of 1,069 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 116 applications per month, with the highest number of applications issued in March 2023 (142 applications). In the most recent month, April 2023, there were 88 applications.

The applications were made by 151 different local authorities and 21 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.

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