People with dementia can sometimes start to wander. This might only be into the garden or street for a short time, but sometimes people get lost and go missing.

Carers, family or friends of a vulnerable person, or the person themselves, can fill in a Herbert Protocol form in advance, containing information to help the police if the person goes missing.

Herbert Protocol form (PDF 529 KB)

Keeping a completed form means you don’t have to try to remember the information when you are under stress if someone goes missing. And it saves time, so we can start the search sooner.

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. For example, you might decide it is time to fill in a form when someone cannot remember their address themselves.

Who fills in the form

A carer at a care home, family, friends or the person themselves can fill in the form.

Please get permission from the person at risk or their relatives before you complete a form. If that isn’t possible, a care home can fill in a form if they think it is in the person’s best interests.

Filling in the form with the person can trigger memories that they like to talk about, and can enrich your time with them. Be mindful though that some memories might be upsetting.

What to do with the form

You can fill in this form on your computer or print it out and fill it in by hand. Keep it somewhere safe where you can easily find it if the person goes missing. You could give a copy to friends, family and neighbours.

You only need to give it to the police if the person goes missing. The police will ask you extra questions about what happened around the time of the disappearance and what the missing person was wearing.

Care homes must store the form legally in accordance with data protection laws.

Make sure you keep the form up to date if something changes, for example their medication or their daily routine changes.

What to do when someone goes missing

If you discover someone is missing, look for them around the house or home, including any gardens and outbuildings.

If you don’t find them, call 999 immediately. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use our textphone service 18000 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.

Don't worry - you won't be criticised for calling the police if you are worried about someone’s safety.

When you call us, say that you have a Herbert Protocol profile available.
If you have an electronic version of the form ask for an email address so you can e-mail the form to us. If you have a paper copy, have it ready for the police when they arrive.

We will ask you extra questions about what has happened, including where and when the person was last seen and what they were wearing and carrying.

Useful links

Alzheimer's Society

Dementia UK

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