Police offer GPS trackers to dementia sufferers

GPS tracker for dementia sufferers from Avon and Somerset Police

What the GPS trackers look like - Credit: Avon & Somerset Police

People with dementia could be given GPS trackers to help track them should they go missing, as part of a new police initiative.

Avon and Somerset Police are making tracking devices available to vulnerable adults in the latest phase of the force's Dementia Safeguarding Scheme.

A total of 30 GPS trackers will be supplied by Somerset-based company MindMe, thanks to £7,000 in funding from partners Bristol Water and Wessex Water.

They will be allocated by the force’s specialist Missing Person Coordinators on a referral basis to those recipients considered most at risk of becoming a missing person.

Around 70 per cent of people living with dementia may go missing at least once, with some at risk of going missing multiple times. 

Sgt Stuart King, who runs the Dementia Safeguarding Scheme on a voluntary basis, said: “I’m delighted to be able to announce the launch of this much-needed addition to our safeguarding scheme and would like to thank our external partners for contributing the necessary funding to make it possible.

“Wearable devices are not a substitute for good care, but when a vulnerable person is reported missing, every minute counts and that is where modern technology can make a crucial difference. 

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"I’d strongly encourage anyone caring for a person living with dementia to look into GPS tracking devices if they can.

“While the number of devices we can supply is limited, we hope to be able to offer this service to those known to be at the greatest risk.”

Sgt Stuart King of Avon & Somerset Police

Sgt Stuart King of Avon & Somerset Police - Credit: Avon & Somerset Police

Kate Robbins, head of customer policy at Wessex Water, said: “As a company that provides essential services, we are committed to providing extra support to customers who are in vulnerable circumstances and need extra care, so we are very pleased to be funding this initiative which will go a long way to help people living with dementia and their families.”

Steph Martin, Customer Experience Project Manager at Bristol Water, said: “This is a great initiative and something Bristol Water is pleased to be involved with, for the second year running. 

"We are always looking at ways to reach people who would benefit from being on our priority services register, which supports members of our community who may need a little extra help.”

The Avon and Somerset Dementia Safeguarding Scheme was established in 2015 in response to an increasing number of missing person and welfare concern reports involving people living with dementia.

The scheme, also known as the Herbert Protocol, enables families to upload vital information about their loved one via the police website, which can be quickly accessed by officers should the need arise to conduct a missing person search.