GPS trackers, introduced in South Yorkshire, give missing persons' loved ones 'peace of mind'

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Families of dementia sufferers in Sheffield are praising innovative trackers which allow emergency services to follow their movements, should they be reported missing.

The GPS trackers, which are worn on any item of clothing that someone frequently wears or is likely to have with them, have been given to 12 people in Sheffield who have dementia or Alzheimers disease.

Introduced by the Local Intervention and Falls Episodes (LIFE) Team in South Yorkshire, the devices allow emergency services, and families, to trace a person’s movements more easily.

They allow for quicker re-unification with the missing person's loved ones, Acting Inspector Gayle Kirby said.

“I hope that this offers some comfort to those families who have loved ones living with dementia and/or Alzheimer’s that with the trackers, we are in a much better position to ensure their wellbeing as soon as possible,” she said.

Sheffield woman Dena Berry, whose mother has dementia and was last reported missing earlier this month, said that the tracker had given her family ‘peace of mind.’

“I don’t know what I’d do without it," she said.

"It’s very simple to use, very accurate and all the family can be connected and monitor it at once, ensuring quick responses which will ultimately save police time.

"It has given the family peace of mind.”

When Dena’s mother went missing, her father was alerted through the tracker.

She was home before police needed to be called.

The LIFE team, made up of staff from South Yorkshire Police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, began trialling the devices in May are pleased with the success so far.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue area manager, Steve Helps, said: “This is yet another example of how the LIFE team is working together to produce meaningful outcomes for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“We know that there are huge links between the people who need the help of the police and health services for reasons such as dementia, and those who are at risk of fire. So collaborative working such as this undoubtedly benefits our public safety work as well."