Northern Ireland news

New pilot initiative launched to help trace missing people with dementia

The pilot project was launched by the PSNI in partnership with Dementia NI, the Southern Health and Social Care Trust and local Policing and Community Safety Partnership

A NEW initiative has been launched to help police quickly and safely recover people who have dementia if they are reported missing.

The 'Herbert Protocol' is a public document that can be populated with vital information, such as a recent photograph, contact details, medication required and significant locations relating to the individual.

This can then be provided to officers and used to save vital time in a missing person investigation.

It originated in Norfolk and takes its name after Normandy landings veteran George Herbert, who lived with dementia and died in 2011, after he went missing while looking for his childhood home.

The pilot project, launched by the PSNI, Dementia NI, Southern Health and Social Care Trust and local Policing and Community Safety Partnership, will initially be available in areas of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon.

It is hoped it will be rolled out throughout the PSNI next year.

The project includes input from Dementia NI members such as Gerard Doran (62) from Craigavon, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease in October 2020.

"People with dementia can experience significant memory loss and confusion," he said.

"This can cause them to be unable to recognise places and faces.

"For some this can lead to wandering, going missing or getting lost when leaving home.

"As a member of Dementia NI, I appreciate the introduction of the Herbert Protocol to support people with dementia.

"To me, this important initiative means if something was to happen and I was reported missing in the future, I would be supported."

Crime Prevention Officer Lisa Sherman said: "Every minute is crucial in tracing older missing people with complex vulnerabilities, including dementia and so having this information readily available could be very helpful to the police.

"We are pleased to be working with partner agencies on the roll out of this pilot initiative and we would encourage families in the local areas to use this form so that it can be provided to the police should the need arise.

"This scheme can provide families with peace of mind knowing that they are prepared should they need to report a loved one missing.

"Experience of this protocol in other parts of the UK has shown that by having this information to hand it will help us to protect vulnerable adults if they go missing."

Hazel Haworth from Dementia NI said it "will enable police to respond more quickly and efficiently when a person living with dementia goes missing.

"This means they are more likely to be found safe and sound."

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