THERE are many thousands of incidents of people going missing each year. Many incidents go unreported to the police but may be known to other agencies.

Helping to save lives, we need to recognise the organisations working together to address issues for those who do go missing. A range of agencies are involved including council services such as social care, care homes for the elderly, children’s homes, and schools. There is a focus on bringing together good practice on all aspects of handling missing incidents.

Of particular concern is that 40% of people with dementia will go missing. People living with dementia and their carers have to be a high priority due to their need for protection from harm. Two thirds of people with dementia still live in our communities. The fact that dementia is progressive means that for a long time, people with dementia can live active, engaged, valuable lives.

The Herbert Protocol is encouraging carers and families to record information on a form in advance, prior to any crisis. This is a single national process to help police officers obtain information quickly about a missing person who has dementia. The form can be downloaded from the Police Scotland website, or requested from Health and Social Care Partnership staff, or other organisations, including Alzheimer Scotland.

It holds personal details, a description, a recent photograph, languages spoken, as well as previous addresses, places of employment and other significant locations in someone’s life. This can include their old school, a place of worship, or a favourite walking route, plus their medical history and information about past incidents of going missing.

Having the Herbert Protocol to hand when a loved one is missing can speed up the search and mean the family or carers are not struggling to recall information when they are stressed.

The Herbert Protocol form can be used together with Alzheimer Scotland Purple Alert, a free app designed to help find missing people with dementia. If someone is missing, users will get notified via the app and can help with local searches. The Purple Alert can only become more successful if the community of users increases, making it more likely that someone is found safe and well.

It is crucial that people living with dementia feel they are recognised, valued and supported within their local community. By learning more about dementia, and helping provide practical support, you can make a big difference.

Whilst walking home within the city centre, I was involved in supporting a person living with dementia who had gone missing. With assistance from a local shopkeeper, the person was reunited with their family within a few hours of being reported missing.

A dementia friendly community is made up of anyone who wants to support their local area to be more welcoming for people living with dementia. Everyone from shop assistants, public service workers, faith groups, businesses, police, fire and ambulance staff to bus drivers, school pupils and local community centres. It is important that we keep reaching out and support any effort to help make our communities safer.