Avon and Somerset Police to offer GPS trackers to high-risk dementia sufferers
Avon and Somerset Police will be offering GPS trackers to people living with dementia who are at high risk of going missing.
The force said on Tuesday it has secured 30 devices developed by Somerset-based company MindMe, following a donation by local water companies.
Its dementia safeguarding scheme has been using the technology since 2015, but will now offer them to 30 people it considers to be the most vulnerable based on risk assessments.
According to data gathered by the University of East Anglia, 70% of dementia sufferers are at risk of going missing at least once, while 40,000 are reported missing for the first time each year.
Some may go missing multiple times, the research found.
The GPS devices were funded through a £7,000 donation from Bristol Water and Wessex Water and can be worn on the wrist or on a lanyard around a person’s neck.
Sergeant Stuart King (pictured), who runs the dementia safeguarding scheme, said: “Wearable devices are not a substitute for good care, but when a vulnerable person is reported missing, every minute counts and that is where modern technology can make a crucial difference.
“I’d strongly encourage anyone caring for a person living with dementia to look into GPS tracking devices if they can.”
Mr King added: “While the number of devices we can supply is limited, we hope to be able to offer this service to those known to be at the greatest risk.”
He thanked the water companies for funding the scheme.
Sussex Police were the first force to adopt the MindMe technology in 2013, the company said.
Avon and Somerset Police already offer those with dementia near-field communication (NFC) wristbands, which electronically store information such as the details of their emergency contacts.
The information from the bright yellow devices can be retrieved by emergency services and members of the public using a smartphone if the wearer is found lost or in need of assistance.
The wristbands have been adopted by a number of forces across the UK and Avon and Somerset Police have so far allocated 1,600 of them.
A further 1,000 are due to be made available after £2,000 funding was received from Bristol Water, Wessex Water and Western Power Distribution.
Avon and Somerset Police’s dementia safeguarding scheme is part of the Herbert Protocol, a system used by a number of forces to enable families to upload key information about their loved one to police websites.
It means officers can immediately access data on a person’s medication, the mobile numbers of relatives, former addresses and employer details, their photograph and places they have previously been located.
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