A new scheme to help find vulnerable missing people with dementia and related conditions is being adopted across Sussex.
During Dementia Action Week, which starts today (Monday May 21), Sussex Police and partner agencies are formally adopting the ‘Herbert Protocol’, giving carers, relatives or friends the ability to prepare, in advance, information that police will need quickly if ever their loved one goes missing.
With more than 850,000 people affected by dementia in the UK and numbers set to rise, Sussex Police have worked in partnership with the Alzheimers Society and Sussex Search and Rescue (SusSAR) to plan this scheme.
The Protocol, already adopted by several forces across the UK, is named after George Herbert from Norfolk, a veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with dementia and repeatedly went missing from his care home.
It consists of a form that can be completed by relatives, friends or carers of those affected by dementia, recording vital information about the person including their regular medication, previous addresses and daily routines. Should the person they care for go missing, the form can be handed straight to the attending police officers, with a photograph.
This will help provide officers with the most up to date information about the vulnerable missing person, helping to accurately guide their search, and also avoid further unnecessary questions for families at what can be an extremely distressing time.
Chief Superintendent Lisa Bell said: “When a vulnerable person is reported missing it can be deeply distressing for their family and friends.
“Finding them quickly before they come to harm is critical.
“We know that people may find it difficult to recall information when they are worried and distressed, and having vital information to hand about regular routines and previous addresses, will help officers to act fast to locate the missing person, returning them home safely.
“This will be an extra resource for our priority task of safeguarding and protecting those most vulnerable in our communities.”
The form once completed should be regularly updated and kept in a safe place, with a photo, where it can be easily located and handed to the attending officers should the person you care for go missing. To get the form and find out more, just visit here.
Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne added: “With an ageing population increasing across our county, the need for the ‘Herbert Protocol’ has never been greater.
“As people live longer, they may also become increasingly vulnerable and this is no doubt made worse when they suffer from a debilitating disease like dementia.
“I am really pleased that Sussex Police have adopted this protocol as it will help everyone from the police to families and carers to be best prepared for an unanticipated emergency and help protect the more vulnerable in our society.“
If you are concerned for the whereabouts of a friend or relative, please dial 101. If you feel the person may be in immediate danger, please call 999 as soon as possible.