Herbert Protocol will help police trace missing people with dementia

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Police Scotland is encouraging the friends and family of people living with dementia to sign up to the Herbert Protocol, a new nationwide initiative launched by Police Scotland, Health and Social Care Scotland, Alzheimer Scotland and the Scottish Government.

The Herbert Protocol utilises a prefilled identification form to help officers quickly obtain information about a vulnerable missing person who has dementia, saving vital time in the early stages of an investigation.

The form is completed in advance and generally kept in the person’s home or with relatives. It holds personal details, a description, a recent photograph, languages spoken, as well as previous addresses, places of employment and other significant locations in someone’s life. This can include their old school, a church, or a favourite walking route, plus their medical history and information about past incidents of going missing.

Carers or family members can download the Herbert Protocol form from the Police Scotland website, or request a copy from local Health and Social Care Partnership staff, or other agencies, including Alzheimer Scotland.

Assistant chief constable Gary Ritchie, partnerships, prevention and community wellbeing, said: ‘When a person goes missing, the first hour is vitally important. Previously, we would have spent a significant amount of time gathering information from family, friends or carers, but being able to give officers a completed Herbert Protocol form saves valuable minutes and hours.

‘We hope that families who choose to complete a form will never have to use them. But if they do, having that completed form to hand gives relatives or carers peace of mind that they’re providing the police with detailed, relevant information to enable us to send officers to places where your loved one may be.

‘We are completely committed to protecting vulnerable people from harm and having the Herbert Protocol in place Scotland-wide is a significant step towards keeping people safe.’

The Herbert Protocol form can be used together with Alzheimer Scotland Purple Alert, a free app designed to help finding missing people with dementia. If someone is missing, users will get notified via the app and can help with local searches.