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Force trials GPS trackers for people with dementia

South Yorkshire Police are providing free GPS trackers to people living with dementia to help prevent them going missing

The initial trial will run for 12 months and see 50 people receive the devices.

Their first sign up in the trial was couple Rik and Linda.

Rik, 62, who has dementia and was reported missing from Rother Valley Country Park earlier this month, became separated from his wife while running a virtual marathon in the park on Sunday 3 October.

After extensive searches, he was found by a member of the public in Beighton two days later.

Police Search Advisor, PC John Porter said: "Rik's disappearance presented numerous challenges for us. Rik being relatively young and very physically fit meant that by the time he was reported missing there were a number of locations he could have travelled to. He also wasn't carrying any electrical devices so we couldn't track his movements.

"Due to his condition, Rik wouldn't have necessarily responded if someone saw him or called his name. He'd be frightened and confused, and his go-to response in that scenario would be to hide. We were heavily reliant on the number of resources from police and other agencies, and also the public reporting sightings."

The trackers will only be provided to family members, like Linda, with power of attorney over their loved one. The information recorded will only be available to police once they have authorised it.

The GPS devices are waterproof, and will be available as either a necklace or a keyring, designed to be discreet and comfortable, the force said.

The recipients will also receive a year's subscription to the software needed to monitor the location of the device.

The app will allow users to 'geo-fence' known locations and will send alerts if the device owner makes an unfamiliar journey, to help stop them getting lost.

The force said: “Our GPS trial is the first of its kind, and will allow families of people with dementia to have peace of mind and safeguard their loved ones.”

PC Porter continued: “If you know someone who could benefit from the scheme, please email us for more information. We have high hopes that this will improve the lives of people living with dementia, and their loved ones.”

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