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Deprivation of liberty after unlawful detainment

Milton Keynes Council v RR & Ors [2014] EWCOP B19

Rachel Turner represented RR, an 81 year old woman with vascular dementia, in a Court of Protection case concerning her removal from home to residential accommodation.

After a number of safeguarding alerts relating to physical injuries sustained by RR, without giving notice Milton Keynes Council (MKC) removed RR from her home and placed her in residential accommodation.  RR’s son SS, who was caring for her, was not present when his mother was removed and MKC did not disclose her location to him for 19 days and then only allowed limited contact while the council investigated neglect claims.

The court found that RR lacked capacity to make decisions about where she should live, who should care for her and with whom she should have contact. All parties agreed that it was in RR’s best interests to live in the care home but in her son’s opinion this was only because there was no available alternative.

The court ruled that the council had unlawfully deprived RR of her liberty and that the unlawful deprivation of her liberty continued for 14 days as MKC did not obtain authorisation from its own supervisory body and did not apply to the Court of Protection until 19 days after the removal.

Noting that the investigation into the safeguarding alerts and concerns took 11 months to complete, the court found that this resulted in “avoidable and unlawful breaches to RR’s right to liberty and security of person and her right to respect for her private and family life and her home.”

MKC accepted this and informed the court that it had reviewed its safeguarding practices and provided additional training to “ensure best practice in future”.

The judge ordered contact between RR and SS to resume with the same restrictions that any other visitor would be subjected to when visiting a resident of the care home.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.

Rachel Turner

Joint Managing Partner
Joint Head of Mental Health & Capacity Department

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