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National deprivation of liberty court: Data trends, July – August

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. The Nuffield Family Justice Observatory was invited to collect and publish data on these applications. This monthly briefing highlights high-level data trends.

About the data

The data reported in this briefing relates to all applications issued by the national deprivation of liberty court. It covers information included on the C66 application form – the form used to apply for an order under the high court inherent jurisdiction in relation to children. Data is extracted and recorded by court staff and analysed by Nuffield Family Justice Observatory.

Data caveats and limitations

Data is extracted on a monthly basis from a live data-recording system and reflects the most accurate information at the time of analysis; however figures are subject to revision. In some instances, data may be missing if it is not recorded on the application form. Missing data is excluded from analyses.

Caution must be exercised in the interpretation of results given the relatively small sample size and timeframe – particularly during the early months of the deprivation of liberty court. As data relating to the use of deprivation of liberty orders is not available from another data source, it is not possible to compare our data to alternative records.

In the monthly data briefings, we are limited in reporting on information recorded in the application form only – this provides an indication of how many applications are being made each month but does not provide detailed information about the children subject to deprivation of liberty applications or the outcome of applications. During the 12-month pilot, the Nuffield Family Justice Observatory will be undertaking further research using data collected from the court.

How many applications are there each month?

In the first two months of the national deprivation of liberty court, there were 237 applications – 101 in July and 136 in August. The applications were made by 96 different local authorities and 5 hospital or mental health trusts.

How does the number of applications vary by region?

In July and August 2022, a quarter (25.1%) of applications were made by local authorities in the North West of England, followed by 15.4% of applications from London and 11.5% from the South West.

 Particular caution should be exercised when interpreting this data due to the small sample size and the fact we only have two months of data. As data collection continues, we will be able to build a better picture about how the use of deprivation of liberty applications varies across the country.

How old are the children?

The majority of children (56.8%) involved in applications were aged 15 and above.

What gender are the children?

The number of girls and boys subject to applications is almost equal.

Read more on Deprivation of Liberty in England and Wales