Poverty and Inequality

01.04.19

Council ‘unlawfully failed’ to carry out liberty deprivation checks for thousands of vulnerable people due to financial pressures

A council has deliberately failed to assess thousands of vulnerable people who may have been unlawfully deprived of their liberty, the local government ombudsman has ruled.

Staffordshire County Council decided in May 2016 that it would stop carrying out assessments of vulnerable people except for high-priority cases.

Since May 2016, the council told the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman it had closed nearly 2,000 applications without assessment where a person had died before one could take place.

Staffordshire council was aware at the time of the decision and was aware it would be breaking the relevant legislation, but made the decision anyway because of financial pressures.

The ombudsman said the county council was using an adapted version of a priority ranking system which meant fewer requests were categorised as high priority.

It said the authority had a backlog of 3,000 requests for assessments at the end of June, with some dating back to 2014, and that “without the correct authorisation in place, there is a high risk that people are being unlawfully deprived on their liberty.”

The local government and social care ombudsman, Michael King, commented: “Resource constraints can never be a legitimate reason for not carrying out the assessments required by law or statutory guidance.

“While councils may decide how to prioritise cases, it is not acceptable that the only way low and medium-priority applications are resolved is because the people involved move away or die.

“Because the council does not assess the majority of requests we simply do not know if there are people waiting in the backlog who are wrongly being deprived of their liberty when they actually have capacity, or when less restrictive options are available.”

King said the ombudsman issued a focus report in 2017 highlighting the problems it was seeing in this area, and that whilst Staffordshire’s is “at the extreme end,” he urged other authorities to look at how they carry out assessments.

Staffordshire County Council’s deputy leader and cabinet member for health, care and wellbeing, Alan White, defended the authority’s decision and said it is generally accepted that the current legislation is “no longer fit for purpose.”

“Regarding the implications of the Ombudsman’s findings, I would emphasise that no-one has complained about the prioritisation scheme, no individual has actually suffered injustice.”

Whilst the ombudsman has made recommendations, the council said it was not being asked to change its day-to-day services until it’s time to implement the recommendations of the government’s amendment to the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which will be next year at the earliest.

Comments

There are no comments. Why not be the first?

Add your comment

 

public sector executive tv

more videos >

latest public sector news

North Oxford looks set for £500m development plan

18/09/2019North Oxford looks set for £500m development plan

A £500m development plan for North Oxford looks likely to get the green light from Oxford City Council officers. The proposal includes... more >
Councils urged to apply for £120k local road improvement fund

18/09/2019Councils urged to apply for £120k local road improvement fund

Local authorities across the UK are being urged to apply for a new grant fund, delivered by the Road Safety Trust, aimed towards improving safety... more >
Government awards £2m to prevent illegal greenbelt development

18/09/2019Government awards £2m to prevent illegal greenbelt development

Housing minister Esther McVey has announced £2m funding to “ensure the UK greenbelt remains untouched and protected” by pr... more >

editor's comment

25/10/2017Take a moment to celebrate

Devolution, restructuring and widespread service reform: from a journalist’s perspective, it’s never been a more exciting time to report on the public sector. That’s why I could not be more thrilled to be taking over the reins at PSE at this key juncture. There could not be a feature that more perfectly encapsulates this... read more >

last word

Prevention: Investing for the future

Prevention: Investing for the future

Rob Whiteman, CEO at the Chartered Institute of Public Finance (CIPFA), discusses the benefits of long-term preventative investment. Rising demand, reducing resource – this has been th... more > more last word articles >
North Oxford looks set for £500m development plan

18/09/2019North Oxford looks set for £500m development plan

A £500m development plan for North Oxford looks likely to get the green light from Oxford City Council officers. The proposal includes 480 new homes and offices with a 4,500-job capaci... more >
Liverpool City Council sells 45% share in John Lennon Airport

18/09/2019Liverpool City Council sells 45% share in John Lennon Airport

Liverpool City Council have joint-sold a 45% share of Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport to investors. Of the sold stake, 35% was originally property of Peel Group and the other 10% belon... more >

the raven's daily blog

Northern Powerhouse Partner aims to connect the North once again

02/09/2019Northern Powerhouse Partner aims to connect the North once again

In February this year, official Northern Powerhouse Partner, Cognitive Publishing, delivered EvoNorth 2019.  The two day event was designed to amplify and highlight future developments the region has to offer - uniting leaders responsible for fuelling the Northern Powerhouse agenda, including Dr Nicola Headlam, Head of the Northern Powerh... more >
read more blog posts from 'the raven' >

comment

Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

21/06/2019Peter Kyle MP: It’s time to say thank you this Public Service Day

Taking time to say thank you is one of the hidden pillars of a society. Being on the receiving end of some “thanks” can make communit... more >
How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

19/06/2019How community-led initiatives can help save the housing shortage

Tom Chance, director at the National Community Land Trust Network, argues that community-led initiatives are a productive way of helping to solve... more >
Aberdeen's green transport fleet attracting international attention

19/06/2019Aberdeen's green transport fleet attracting international attention

Aberdeen City Council’s hydrogen spokesperson, councillor Philip Bell, highlights the Granite City’s determination to play a leading ... more >
A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

13/06/2019A fifth of public sector workers have never received a thank you from the people they serve

A fifth of the country’s public sector workers say they have NEVER received a ‘thank you’ for doing their job as Public Service... more >

interviews

Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

17/12/2018Artificial intelligence: the devil is in the data

It’s no secret that the public sector and its service providers need to invest in technology to help make better use of their resources. Bu... more >
Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

17/12/2018Digital innovation in the public sector: The future is now

One of the public sector’s key technology partners has recently welcomed a new member to its team. Matt Spencer, O2’s head of public ... more >
New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

05/11/2018New Dorset Councils CEO on the creation of a new unitary: ‘This is going to be the right decision for Dorset’

The new chief executive of one of the new unitary authorities in Dorset has outlined his approach to culture and work with employees, arguing tha... more >
Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

15/10/2018Keeping the momentum of the Northern Powerhouse

On 6 September, the biggest decision-makers of the north joined forces to celebrate and debate how to drive innovation and improvement through th... more >

public sector focus

View all News