Excuse me… can you… can you tell me where I am?

9 September 2019

North Yorkshire Police has shared a powerful video, produced by colleagues at Northumbria Police, in the hope that more people will sign up to the Herbert Protocol if their loved-one is vulnerable or living with dementia.

The video captures what happened when a man in his 60s appeared to be lost and confused in a busy city centre. ‘Brian’ had arranged to meet his daughter, but was unable to remember where he was, or where he was meeting her.

‘Brian’ was actually portrayed by an actor, hired by Northumbria Police as a social experiment, to check if strangers know how to help people in distress. Prior to the experiment Brian had been trained by the Alzheimer’s Society to show the signs of early onset dementia. Find out why they produced their video here.

Although some people ignore Brian or walk past him, three times as many stopped to try and help the man locate his daughter.

North Yorkshire Police hopes that by sharing the video, with the permission of Northumbria Police, it will help people to understand what vulnerability can look like in day-to-day life and encourage those who have a relative with care and support needs to consider signing up to the Herbert Protocol.

Netty Newell from Dementia Forward said:

The Herbert Protocol  provides reassurance to families and is a safety blanket that allows people to keep their independence and remain a part of their community for longer. It means that people living  with dementia can still go out for a walk or pop to the shops, and continue to go about they everyday lives.

It brings peace of mind to families. If people go missing there is a plan in place so that people can be found as quickly as possible. As our experience tells us that when someone goes missing this can leave families feeling traumatised and under pressure to bring information to mind to the police, the protocol helps avoid this. Our biggest tip is to keep it up to date. At Dementia Forward we encourage people to sign up.

The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme which was, introduced in North Yorkshire in 2015, and is used by police forces across the country in partnership with other agencies which encourages carers and relatives to compile useful information which could be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing.

Carers, family members and friends can complete the form in advance, a form recording all vital details, such as medication required, mobile numbers, places previously located, a photograph etc.  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 Herbert Protocol initiative is named after George Herbert, a war veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with dementia. George Herbert died whilst ‘missing’, trying to find his childhood home.

It can be used for anyone who has a dementia diagnosis and may be at risk of going missing.

What is the Herbert Protocol?

It is a simple risk reduction tool to be used in the event of an adult with care and support needs going missing. It consists of a form that contains vital information about a person at risk that can be passed to the police at the point the person is reported missing. A recent photograph of the person should also be kept with the form. It is not intended to replace existing safeguarding and security measures.

Who decides who is at risk?

The judgement should be based on your professional opinion or knowledge of your family member.

Who completes the form?

In a care setting, the care provider, the person at risk or their family can fill in the form. Please seek permission from the person at risk or their next of kin. If neither is possible, the care provider should make a ‘best interests’ assessment. The form should be completed and regularly updated, so that all the information is as relevant as possible.

When should the form be sent to the police?

The police only need the form at the point the person is reported missing. There is no need to hand it to police before then and the form will be returned once the person is found.

Where should the form be stored?

It should be stored securely in the care setting, in accordance with data protection laws, but where you can find it quickly. Please make sure other relatives, carers or staff know where it is, and that the person it refers to is part of the Herbert Protocol.

Printed or electronic form?

You can download the form on the force’s website. Please hand a paper copy to the police officer who attends to take the missing person’s report: northyorkshire.police.uk/herbertprotocol

What should a care provider do if the person goes missing?

After you have conducted an ‘open door’ search of the address, grounds and outbuildings and you believe a person is missing, alert the police at the earliest opportunity. If you believe that the person missing is at a high risk of harm, please call 999. Tell the police operator that you have the Herbert Protocol person profile.

Commenting on the Herbert Protocol and why the force is encouraging more people to sign their relatives and people in their care up to the scheme, Detective Superintendent Allan Harder, Head of Safeguarding at North Yorkshire Police, said:

A loved-one going missing can be an extremely traumatic and distressing experience, especially if that person is vulnerable or is living with dementia.

The Herbert Protocol is an invaluable national scheme introduced by North Yorkshire Police and other forces across the county which can save valuable time in the event of a vulnerable person going missing.

We hope that by sharing the video it will help to raise awareness of what vulnerability can look like in day-to-day life and encourage those whose relatives have care and support needs to sign up to the Herbert Protocol.

I’d also like to thank our colleagues at Northumbria Police for allowing us to use their video to raise awareness of such an important issue that affects so many and show how we can all do our bit to help.

If you have any concerns about someone who may be vulnerable please call North Yorkshire Police on 101. Always call 999 if someone is in immediate danger.

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