A nationwide scheme to help find a missing person with dementia is being supported by Wiltshire Police as part of National Dementia Action Week (16 – 22 May).
The Herbert Protocol is a scheme designed to help police and family or friends locate the missing person.
Adults go missing for all sorts of reasons, but according to the charity Missing People, dementia is one of the most common, representing around one in ten adult missing incidents nationally. It is estimated that four in every 10 people with dementia will go missing at some point, often unintentionally.
It is important that families and carers feel there is something they can do to help when someone goes missing.
Wiltshire Police, in partnership with Alzheimer’s Support, Swindon Carers and both local authorities, is raising awareness of the Herbert Protocol which encourages carers to compile and store useful information that can be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing.
The Force is asking carers, family members and friends of those with dementia to complete in advance a simple booklet recording important details such as medication, mobile numbers, places previously located as well as a recent photograph.
If a family member, friend or resident goes missing, the booklet can be handed to police, reducing the time is takes to gather information during the initial, critical stages of a search, which police call ‘the golden hour’.
Detective Inspector Eirin Martin, Force Lead for Missing Persons, said: “The Herbert Protocol is such a valuable tool in helping police find some of our most vulnerable missing people.
“Those with dementia are at an increased risk of harm due to their diagnosis and often external factors, such as weather conditions. We want to use Dementia Action Week to raise awareness of this vital document, supported by our partners.”
There are 3 ways to obtain a copy of the Herbert Protocol:
1. Download a copy from the Wiltshire Police website, complete and store it electronically
2. Print a copy from the website, complete by hand and keep a hard copy in a safe place
3. Doctor’s surgeries, police station enquiry offices and local authority offices (County Hall, Trowbridge, Wat Tyler House, Swindon and Monkton Park, Chippenham).
It must be kept in a safe place where it can easily be found if the person it refers to goes missing. It may need to be located quickly, at any time day or night, by a police officer who will need the information to begin the initial searches. The police will only ever ask for the protocol if the person is reported missing.
Wiltshire Police will be at Swindon Central Library between 10.30am till 12.30pm today (16 May) at the Dementia Action Week Expo.
You can report a missing person to police at any time. Call 101 or 999 if the missing person is a child or someone thought to be at serious risk or harm. You can also report to the charity Missing People on 116 000.