The Herbert Protocol is a form is designed to make sure if someone goes missing, the police can get access to important information about that person as soon as possible. If your relative cannot be found, this can deeply distressing and upsetting for you, family and friends.
Being asked by a police officer to recall lots of detailed information can add to this stress, but this form and process is designed to remove some of the worry.
When should I complete the form?
As soon as possible. The sooner the form is completed, the quicker police can use the information provided to track your loved one.
How much detail is needed?
The police officer just needs an overview of the required information, so don’t worry about too much detail. If you are writing the information by hand, please try to make sure that it is clear and easy to read.
What should I do when I find out that my relative or friend is missing?
You should ring 999 immediately. The sooner the police know that someone is missing, the sooner officers can start looking for them.
What will the police need to know?
When you speak to the police operator, tell them who is missing and that they have dementia. The operator will ask you several questions but this will not delay the police response – there are systems in place to allow them to talk to you at the same time that officers are deployed to come and help you find your relative.
Some of the questions that you may be asked are:
• When and where was the person last seen? Be as specific as you can.
• What were they wearing? The operator 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.
If you have the information form with you, tell the police operator. An officer will come and collect the form. If you don’t have it with you, don’t worry, the officer may ask you more questions. The information will be used to coordinate the search for your loved one. You may be feeling upset and worried for their safety. This is completely natural, and police officers will make sure you are supported throughout the process.