Caring for people with dementia or Alzheimer's can be challenging. 

There's a risk they can at some point start to 'walk about'. This may only be into the garden or street for a short time, but some people can get lost and go missing.

So planning ahead to keep them safe is really important.

What is the Herbert Protocol?

The Herbert Protocol is a form that carers, family or friends of a vulnerable person can fill in.

It contains a list of information to help the police if the person goes missing, including:

  • medication required
  • mobile numbers
  • places previously located
  • a recent photograph

You'll find the form at the bottom of this page.

Keeping a completed form saves the worry of trying to recall the information during the stressful time of someone going missing. It also saves time for the police, allowing the search to start sooner.

The initiative is named after George Herbert, a war veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with dementia. He died whilst 'missing', trying to find his childhood home.

When to fill in a form

Use your professional opinion as a carer or your knowledge as a family member to decide whether a person is at risk of going missing.

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.

Update the form regularly to make sure the information is always accurate.

Filling in the form can be a valuable way of communicating with a relative because it causes them to think about where they used to live and work. This triggers memories that they like to talk about, and can enrich your visit.

When should the form be given 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, but where you can find it quickly.

In a care setting, the information must be stored in accordance with data protection legislation. Please make sure other relatives, friends or carers know where it is.

Printed or electronic form?

You can download the form below. A paper copy will need to be handed to the police officer who attends to take the missing person's report.

What if the person goes missing?

If you discover a person is missing, conduct a brief ‘open door’ search of the address, grounds and outbuildings, to see if you can find them.

If they're still missing, call 999 immediately. Don't worry - you won't be criticised for calling the police if you are worried about a person's safety. The sooner the police know someone is missing, the sooner officers can start looking for them.

When you ring the police, tell them you have the Herbert Protocol profile available.

If you have an electronic version of the form you can e-mail it to the Force Control Room so that the information can be shared to the searching officers. If you have a paper copy, have it ready for the attending officer when they arrive.

Be prepared to answer the following questions on the phone:

  • where and when the person was last seen
  • what they were wearing and carrying

Don't worry, this won't delay the police response - officers will be sent out while you are talking.

Useful links

Alzheimer's Society

Dementia UK