Merseyside Police introduce ‘The Herbert Protocol’ for missing or vulnerable people

Merseyside Police would like to introduce you to The Herbert Protocol – an initiative named after George Herbert – a War veteran of the Normandy landings – who lived with dementia.

“We appreciate that caring for people with dementia is challenging – and that planning ahead and keeping safe is really important. More than 60% of people living with dementia can at some point start to ‘walk about’.  Whilst this may only be into the garden or street and returning a short time later, people can get lost and go missing; leading to feelings of confusion, fear and vulnerability – particularly at night time or at times of extreme weather.

“As part of making reasonable life adjustments, we want to help by putting a system in place that will help to give the emergency services the best possible information should there be a need for them to become involved in a search for someone with dementia.”

The Herbert Protocol is just that; by joining the Protocol, the Police would gain access to important information as soon as possible, helping to speed up and simplify the response, ensuring that the right information is readily available so that the search can be targeted appropriately and effectively.

Joining the Protocol

To join, you need to:

  1. Read the attached guidance information below.
  2. Complete and retain The Herbert Protocol Missing Person Incident Form; information is a key component, as often a person with dementia will be following what was a routine process, activity or journey.

“We do hope that you will support and join this initiative to enable us to mutually take further steps in ensuring our resources in finding Missing Vulnerable Adults are as effective as possible – to the overall benefit of both the missing individual and their families.”

Missing Person Incident Form

Guidance and Frequently asked Questions

The “Herbert Protocol” Missing Person Incident Form is designed to make sure that, if someone goes missing, the Police can get access to important information about that person as soon as possible.

“If a relative cannot be found, then this is a deeply distressing and upsetting time for their family and friends. We understand that this can be a deeply upsetting time for those involved, and that being asked by a police officer to remember all sorts of different information can add to this worry.  This form, and the information it contains, is designed to help remove some of that stress.”

Q – When should I complete this?

A – As soon as possible!
The form can be completed at your leisure, with no time pressure or urgency.  That said, the sooner the form is ready, the quicker it can be used if needed.

When you have completed the form, please keep it in a prominent position.

Q – How much detail is needed?

A – Whilst sometimes more information is better. Police officers want an overview rather than in depth detail. So, whilst we need to know some key information, we don’t need to know everything! If you are writing the information by hand, please try to make sure that it is easily readable for someone perhaps unfamiliar with your handwriting.

Q – What will happen to this information when I have completed the form?

A – There is no need for the Police or anyone else to have access to this information unless the person to whom it refers goes missing.  You keep the information and hand it over when the Police need it – it will be used to help the Police to find the person as soon as possible, and nothing more!

We will never share your information with anyone else, unless as part of a live investigation it is necessary to do so to safeguard someone.

Q – What should I do when I find out that a relative is missing? 

A – This is vital – if you can’t find someone in the normal way you would expect to, then you MUST call the police on 999.

It is quite normal to worry about calling 999.  Some people are worried that they will be criticised for calling the Police – if you are worried about a person’s safety, then this will not happen!

Minutes saved can mean lives saved! The sooner the police know that someone is missing, then the sooner officers can start looking for them.

  1. Do not worry that talking to the Police operator will slow down the police response!

A – We need to gather some information to enable us to deal with the incident in the best way.  If necessary officers will be sent whilst the operator is still talking to you gathering more information.  They will ask:

  • Have you joined The Herbert Protocol?
  • When was the person last seen? How long ago, and where – be as specific as you can.
  • What were they wearing? They will ask for a description of the clothes the person was last seen wearing, and anything they might be carrying, such as a bag or walking stick, etc.

A police officer will attend and speak to you and will collect the Herbert Protocol Missing Person Incident Form.

The information contained will be of great use when coordinating the search for the person.  You will be feeling upset and worried for their safety.  This is completely natural, and the police officers will make sure that you are supported throughout the process.

Please remember…. this Missing Person Incident Form and the information it contains should be regarded as an additional measure to help ensure a person’s safety.  It should NOT be the only approach taken.

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