Campaigners brand police plan to fit dementia patients with GPS tracking devices to reduce costly call-outs as 'inhumane'

The tracking device can be worn around patients’ necks, clipped to belts and attached to house keys and features a button which would allow its wearer to speak to a 24-hour call centre

A police force plans to fit dementia patients with GPS tracking devices in a bid to reduce the number of costly call-outs to search for patients who regularly go missing.

Campaigners have described the scheme as “inhumane” while East Sussex council’s adult services department will launch an investigation into the tracking proposals from Sussex Police. 

The tracking device can be worn around patients’ necks, clipped to belts and attached to house keys and features a button which would allow its wearer to speak to a 24-hour call centre.

Sussex Police have estimated that one-in-four of more than 300 missing persons inquiries it launched in 2011 involved a dementia patient.

It has now reportedly purchased 15 of the devices which it believes could reduce the number of missing persons searches which often involve a large amount of police manpower, and occasionally a helicopter.

“The GPS will be very cost-effective to the police,” said Chief Inspector Tanya Jones.

While local authorities frequently issue tracking devices to dementia patients, Sussex Police is the first force to do so.

Chief Inspector Jones added: “It will reduce anxiety for the family and really reduce the police time spent on this issue.”

Current estimates place the number of dementia sufferers in Britain at 800,000 with that total due to rise to more than a million in eight years.

“It is heart-breaking to see the torment that families are put through and to see the impact it has on the person with dementia when they are found,” Sussex Police Sergeant Suzie Mitchell told The Daily Telegraph. “We are really excited about our involvement in this project and the difference this could make to local people.”

An East Sussex Conservative councillor has called the scheme into question, claiming some patients may not wished to be tracked. Councillor Bill Bentley warned it could see a technological solution imposed on people in a way “that they may or may not wish to have happened”.

Neil Duncan-Jordan, the national officer of the National Pensioners’ Convention, said the practice “smacks of criminality” adding that the GPS devices put patients “on a par with common offenders or people with Asbos”.

He said: “It just feels so wrong. Most people would be flabbergasted that anybody would be considering it.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

    £30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

    Recruitment Genius: Service Engineers - Doncaster / Hull

    £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...

    Recruitment Genius: Employability / Recruitment Adviser

    £23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...

    Day In a Page

    Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

    The secret CIA Starbucks

    The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
    Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

    How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

    The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
    One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

    One million Britons using food banks

    Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

    Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

    The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

    The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
    Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

    A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
    Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

    Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

    They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
    Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

    The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
    The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

    The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

    Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
    How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

    How to run a restaurant

    As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
    Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

    Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

    For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
    Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

    Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

    The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
    10 best tote bags

    Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

    We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
    Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

    Paul Scholes column

    I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

    The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...