Action urged on liberty of disabled

Braintree and Witham Times: Lady Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court, said disability did not entitle the state to deny disabled people their human rights Lady Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court, said disability did not entitle the state to deny disabled people their human rights

Campaigners want Government action after a "landmark" Supreme Court ruling on the rights of disabled people living in care facilities.

Charities said Supreme Court justices had provided clarity about when disabled people were being deprived of liberty under the terms of mental health legislation.

They called on ministers to issue guidance to care providers and local authorities in the wake of the ruling.

"We now have an acid test from the highest court in the land clarifying what counts as a deprivation of liberty," said Mark Lever, chief executive of the National Autistic Society, who described the ruling as a "landmark".

"We call on the Government to urgently issue clear guidance to care providers and local authorities so that they can implement this judgment."

Supreme Court justices today ruled that three disabled people who lived in care facilities had been "deprived of their liberty".

Lady Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court, said in the ruling that disabled people had the same human right to "physical liberty" as anyone.

And she said the fact that disabled people might be deprived of liberty in care facilities where living arrangements were comfortable made no difference.

She said a "gilded cage" was "still a cage".

Seven Supreme Court justices had analysed the cases of two sisters with learning difficulties and a man with cerebral palsy at a hearing in London.

The did not identify any of the people involved, b ut they said the local authority with responsibility for the sisters was Surrey County Council and the local authority with responsibility for the man was Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Justices said they had considered criteria for judging whether living arrangements for mentally incapacitated people amounted to a "deprivation of liberty".

They said such deprivation had to be authorised under the terms of the 2005 Mental Capacity Act and living arrangements subjected to regular independent checks.

Campaigners said the ruling followed a recent report by a House of Lords Select Committee, which concluded that the Mental Capacity Act was failing.

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