Suffolk and Norfolk Police have worked with health specialists to improve both their understanding and their service to missing people suffering from dementia and their families.
A significant number of the 4300 people who went missing in the two counties between April 2012 and March 2013 will have been sufferers.
Police Search Advisers in both counties profile missing people and draw up search plans based upon their lifestyle, and so were keen to learn more about the effects of dementia to help them assess why a person with the illness may go missing and how they might respond when approached.
A workshop was set up by the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance and run by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to give police and cotrol room staff an insight into living with dementia.
Head of Protective Services for Norfolk and Suffolk, Assistant Chief Constable Gareth Wilson, said: “Searching for a missing person with dementia can be extremely challenging so I welcome anything we can do to increase our knowledge in this area.
“Supporting vulnerable people is a priority for both forces and the training provided by our partners NHS and the Dementia Alliance will prove invaluable.”
Mary Aldridge, Lead Dementia Educationalist at Norfolk Dementia Care Academy said: “We are pleased to be working with the Norfolk and Suffolk Police Search Advisers, who do a difficult job, dealing with people in distress.
“As a result, this workshop has been specifically tailored to give them a better understanding of the experience of dementia.
“It explains how people with dementia might respond to stressful situations.
“The number of people being diagnosed with dementia is increasing and the police are likely to face a growing number of situations that involve people with dementia.
“The workshop aims to increase their confidence and share experiences to support people with dementia when they are in a distressed state.”
Directorof the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, Willie Cruickshank, said: “Dementia is an issue that is on the rise as we face the prospect of people living longer.
“With a growing elderly population in Norfolk and Suffolk, it is of definite relevance to local officers and staff who may be involved in searching for vulnerable missing people.”