Your right to personal liberty

This advice applies to Scotland. See advice for See advice for England, See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Wales

In the UK, human rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998. The Act gives effect to the human rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 5 - the right to liberty and security is one the rights protected by the Human Rights Act.

Read this page to find out more about what this right means under the Human Rights Act.

What rights are protected under article 5?

Article 5 protects your right not to be deprived of your liberty or freedom unless it’s in accordance with the law.

This means you mustn’t be imprisoned or detained unless there's a law which allows it and the correct procedure is followed - for example, the imprisonment of criminals.

What kind of detention is covered by article 5?

Article 5 covers you if - for example:

  • you’re detained in a hospital, care home or mental health hospital

  • you’re in prison or in police custody

  • your freedom of movement has been significantly restricted - for example, by a curfew order.

When can you use article 5?

You can use article 5 to challenge detention which you think is unlawful because - for example:

  • the correct procedure wasn’t followed

  • your detention hasn’t been reviewed in accordance with the law

  • you’ve been detained for longer than is allowed under the law.


You care for your daughter who has a severe learning disability. You were unwell recently and agreed for the local authority to place her in a care home until you got better. Whilst she was there, the local authority decided she should be kept in the care home instead of being returned home.

Both you and your daughter want her to come home as you’re able and willing to care for her. But the local authority refuses to listen to you and won’t take your daughter’s wishes into account.

This could be a breach of your daughter's right to liberty. The local authority can only detain your daughter in the care home if they've followed the proper procedure under the law. So - for example, if they've not properly assessed her needs or reviewed her detention as required by the law, they could be breaching article 5.

Article 5 is a limited right. This means it can be limited in very specific situations set out in the article.

Next steps

Other useful information

Equality Advisory Support Service (EASS)

The EASS helpline can provide advice and information on human rights and discrimination issues.

Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC)

You can find useful information about discrimination on the EHRC website at

Scottish Human Rights Commission

You can find more information on human rights on the website of the Scottish Human Rights Commission at