IT is named after George Herbert, the Second World War veteran with dementia who died after he went missing after leaving his house to search for his childhood home.

Now, police in Scotland’s largest city hope the launch of a simple data sharing scheme will help prevent any further tragedies, saving families the agony of sustained searches.

It could prove particularly effective at a time when daily routines have 
been disrupted due to the pandemic, which experts say can be particularly unsettling for those with dementia.

The premise of the Herbert Protocol is simple.

Family members, carers or even friends and neighbours are asked to fill out a form with vital information about the missing person, which can be held by police or displayed in a prominent position in the home.

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It could include GP contact details, medication and typical daily routine and a recent picture of the person with consent to share this on social media.

Areas that are meaningful to the person with dementia are also key, such as where they grew up.

People with dementia often have loss of short term memory but can easily recall memories from decades earlier and will often try to find a place that has been significant to them in their lifetime.

The scheme is now widely used by police forces south of the Border as 
well as in Scottish areas including the Highlands, Grampian and Edinburgh.

Chief Inspector Natalie Carr, of Greater Glasgow Partnerships and Resourcing, said: “Speed is of the essence in any missing person inquiry 
– the longer someone is missing, particularly if they are vulnerable, then the greater the risk to them.

READ MORE: Equal care plea of families of people with dementia left in care homes during lockdown 

“The Herbert Protocol ensures all relevant information can be passed quickly to police, and will provide vital assistance to officers in their search efforts.”

The introduction of the scheme to Glasgow during World Alzheimer Month has been welcomed by dementia experts and charities involved in the support of those with the disease.

Joyce Gray, deputy director of development at Alzheimer Scotland, said: “If someone with dementia does not return home or goes missing, it’s a distressing time for families. 

“Having vital information to hand relieves some of that pressure and helps focus searches on places meaningful to the individual concerned.”

The charity Glasgow’s Golden Generation (GGG) is already using the scheme in its network of day centres.

In May, the family of a woman with dementia from Giffnock, East Renfrewshire, told how she had disappeared three times in the first month of lockdown.

READ MORE: Letter: Their must be a better way to look after the most vulnerable members of society 

Claire Dick, who works with GGG, said her mother Margaret Paterson was found confused and wandering the streets – and it was the first time this had happened since she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease three years ago.


Professor June Andrews, an expert in the care of people with dementia, said the scheme could help give families peace of mind and allow older people to maintain their independence.

She said: “It sometimes happens that people with dementia are deprived of their liberty, in the sense they are so at risk of getting lost and injured that they are detained in the place where they live and not allowed outside unaccompanied.

“People with dementia are sometimes predictable in where they are headed for, so knowing some things about them helps to focus a search in the place they are most likely to be.

"A recent photo is very useful. With smart cameras you can now take a picture of your dad every time you see him and that is something that can be circulated fast.”


The Herald Think Dementia campaign aims to improve Scottish care standards.