Missing person initiative highlighted in Safeguarding Week

November 17, 2023 - 376 views

An initiative that helps Police when searching for missing people who are living with dementia is being further highlighted as part of the National Safeguarding Week.

The Herbert Protocol is an initiative originally developed by Norfolk Constabulary in 2011 and encourages family and carers to compile useful information which could be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing.

The Herbert Protocol initiative is named after George Herbert, a War veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with dementia. George continually went missing from his care home and the police would have to find him.

Carers, family members and friends can complete the form in advance, recording all vital details, such as medication required, mobile numbers, significant locations relating to the individual and a photograph. In the event of your family member or friend going missing, the form can be easily handed to the police to reduce the time taken in gathering this information.

The form can then be printed out and stored in a safe, easily accessible place in the person’s home, or kept by a family member electronically. For relatives in a care home, staff there should be contacted initially by a family member to discuss completing the form and it can then be included in an individual’s care plan.

The scheme is being further highlighted across North Wales as part of the National Safeguarding Week.

Sergeant Beth Jones of North Wales Police’ Prevention Hub said: “Every minute is crucial in tracing missing people with complex vulnerabilities, including dementia and so having this information available could be very helpful to Police.

“When a person goes missing, it is very distressing for family and friends. The Herbert Protocol encourages carers and families to record vital information on a form in advance, before a moment of crisis. Having this form to hand when a loved one is missing can speed up the search and mean the family or carers are not struggling to recall information when they are stressed.

“Since January this year, 79 individuals who have disclosed dementia, have been reported missing to North Wales Police, so we are pleased to be working closely with partner agencies on the further expansion of this initiative and we would encourage people with dementia, families and carers across the region to use this form so that it can be provided to Police if needed.”

Working closely with the North Wales Safeguarding Board the initiative is being actively promoted whereby booklets and information leaflets are being distributed across pharmacies, hospitals, surgeries and dementia centres across the region. Officers from the Force’s Prevention Hub are also attending several local events to help raise awareness.

Professor Tracey Williamson, Consultant Nurse for Dementia at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which is a member of the North Wales Safeguarding Board said: “There are a little over 5,000 people with a known diagnosis of dementia in North Wales and an estimated 4,800 people undiagnosed with dementia.

“The number of people living with dementia in England and Wales had been previously predicted to increase by 57% from 0.77 million in 2016 to 1.2 million in 2040. However, new research suggests that this figure could be as high as 1.7 million.

“By working together and promoting awareness of the Herbert Protocol, we can ensure people with dementia who go missing, have the best possible chance of being found quickly. The Herbert Protocol is not just about what someone might look like or be wearing. It can have valuable information such as what language a person with dementia now uses and what name they would respond to.”