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Vulnerable missing people – the ‘Herbert Protocol’

It is very worrying or distressing when a loved one or friend goes missing or doesn’t return home when expected, especially so for people living with or caring for someone with Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme adopted by search agencies including Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team and is recognised across the country, aimed primarily at those who care for vulnerable people of all ages who, because of their vulnerability, may go missing. The Herbert Protocol initiative is named after George Herbert, a Second World War veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with Dementia and sadly died while he was ‘missing’ on his way to his childhood home.

The hub of the initiative is the “Life History Questionnaire”. This is where a record can be made of a range of background information about the person cared for. It should be retained in a safe place so that it is immediately available to police and search teams in the event that the person goes missing. The form requests a range of information and is based on years of successful searches throughout the country. You do not need to worry about the privacy of this personal information as you keep the completed form yourself in a safe place at home and only supply it to the police or volunteer search teams in the event of an emergency.

The “Life History Questionnaire” is available to download in PDF format;

  • Fill in as much information as you can.
  • Take a clear ‘head and shoulders’ photo of the person you care for. Fix it (or insert a digital photo) to the appropriate place on the questionnaire.
  • Keep the information in a safe place so that it is readily available to hand to the police in the event of that person going missing.
  • Take a new photograph every six months or so and replace the old one.

This proactive initiative is intended to alleviate as much of the stress associated with this type of event as possible. It is easier to hand the questionnaire to the police rather than try to recall all the information at such a stressful time.

Download one of the PDF documents below by clicking on the link (they basically request the same information so don’t be too concerned if you’re not sure what Police area you need). Once open please save the PDF and you will be able to digitally fill out the form (or handwrite it if you prefer).

North Yorkshire Police area – Herbert Protocol

Cleveland Police area – Herbert Protocol

When should I complete this?

As soon as possible! 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 – and make sure relatives and carers know where it is and that you are part of The Herbert Protocol.

Perhaps you might want to make a copy of the information form for another relative, friends or neighbours.

How much detail is needed?

Whilst sometimes a lot of details are useful, to start with just concentrate on recording what you can, as soon as you can. If you think of something later just add it to the form and remember to update it if circumstances change. If you are writing the information by hand, please try to make sure that it is easily readable for someone perhaps not used to your handwriting.

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

You keep it safe and secure. 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 them (perhaps with our help) to find your loved one as soon as possible, and nothing more.

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

What should I do when I find out that my relative / friend is missing?

Contact your local Police immediately and explain the circumstances.

Join the team

Applications can be made to join the team in a support role (Operational Support) or as a hill going (Search and Rescue) member.

Applications for either role can be made at any time. Intakes for Operational Support members occur at various times of the year. There is one annual intake for Search and Rescue normally each September.

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