GEORGE Herbert was a veteran of the D-Day landings in Normandy. A resident of a Norfolk care home, he suffered from dementia and was forever going missing.

He died while trying to find his childhood home.

After his death, Norfolk Constabulary worked with care homes across the county to develop the document that now bears his name: the Herbert Protocol.

It is an eight-page booklet designed to be filled in with the essential information to help police find an older person suffering with Alzheimer’s or dementia in the event they go missing from home.

As well as a recent picture, the passport-style document also contains information about that person’s routine and can be filled with details about their past.

Det Insp Mark Kent, Wiltshire Police’s lead officer for missing people, says the Herbert Protocol could help save lives in the county.

On average, seven people go missing in Wiltshire every day. The majority – four out of seven – are typically children. Of the remainder, many are older people and could suffer from conditions like Alzheimer’s that make them even more vulnerable.

Mr Kent said of the Herbert Protocol: “It’s about planning for someone to go missing and getting that information readily available.

“In my experience, it’s a very anxious and stressful time.

“People may not be mindful of information the people want there and then like where the missing person used to go and where they used to work.

“They are less able to look after themselves. They are likely to be victims of crime. It’s an outdoor environment and they might not be dressed appropriately.”

Police tactics have come on leaps and bounds in recent years. Officers work closely with search and rescue teams – as well as employing specialist search advisors.

These specialists are able to help with rules of thumb, nuggets like the fact those with dementia often like to travel in straight lines and are reluctant to open closed gates.

Detective Mark Kent urged those whose relatives have gone missing to call 999 sooner rather than later.

“I would rather have an early call and have to call off a search than a late call that ends badly,” he said.

“The carer will know the person they look after who’s gone missing. However, if it comes down to somebody not wanting to contact the police because they don’t want to make a fuss my message is: contact the police, you’re not making a fuss.”

Since Norfolk Constabulary developed the Herbert Protocol with carers and voluntary groups in 2011, forces across the country have taken it on for themselves. Wiltshire Police is relatively late to the party.

The force has worked with Swindon Carers Centre and others to develop a Wiltshire version of the protovol.

Stuart Ilbury, service delivery manager at Swindon Carers Centre, said: “The Herbert Protocol will not only enable the individual with memory problems the freedom we all deserve, but also give their equally deserving carers relief and knowledge that plans are in place should their dependents get confused and lost.

“The impact of someone going missing can be profound. First and foremost, for their loved ones.

“It’s a big cross to bear for carers. Having this as a bit of a back-up will help.

“I think it matters for the individual carers. It means the cared-for person has the best possible chance of being found if they go missing. I think this will help just by giving the police at least a starting point in terms of what that individual looks like and what they’re wearing.

“If we can save even just half an hour when someone’s gone missing, particularly a vulnerable person, we’ve got more of a chance of finding them.”

Angus Macpherson, police and crime commissioner, said communities had a role in keeping an eye out for vulnerable missing people: “We’re all living longer and dementia is more of a common ailment for everyone. As we’ve heard, the amount of time Wiltshire Police spends looking for older people is increasing.”

Get your Herbert Protocol leaflet from GWH, any police station or online at