The Chief Coroner has published new guidance on Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.
The new guidance note 16A comes into force on 3 April to coincide with commencement of changes introduced by Policing and Crime Act 2017 on the same day.
That Act amends the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 and relieves coroners of the current duty to undertake an inquest into every death where the deceased was subject to a Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) authorisation. It also deals with the effect of the Ferreira case and the meaning of 'state detention'.
Where the death takes place before 3rd April then guidance note 16 still applies and the new guidance stresses that the date is "is not tied to the notification of death to the coroner, but is dependent on the date on which death takes place".
Helpfully at [50-52] of the guidance the Chief Coroner summarises his conclusions as set out below:
"50. With a death occurring on or after 3rd April 2017 any person subject to a DoL (i.e. a deprivation of liberty formally authorised under the MCA 2005) is no longer ‘in state detention’ for the purposes of the 2009 Act.
51 When that person dies the death should be treated as with any other death outside the context of state detention: it need only be reported to the coroner where one or more of the other requisite conditions are met.
52. Of course, where there is a concern about the death, such as a concern about care or treatment before death, or where the medical cause of death is uncertain, the coroner will investigate thoroughly in the usual way. There will always be a public interest in the careful scrutiny of any death in circumstances akin to state detention. As in all cases there must be sufficiency of coroner inquiry."
The full text of the guidance note is available on the Chief Coroner's website.
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