The Alzheimer's Society cautiously welcomed Sussex Police's plans to use GPS locating devices to trace dementia patients, but stressed that the tracking system should not replace care.
In some circumstances and when appropriate consent is given, GPS tracking can enable a person with dementia to remain independent for longer, providing them and their carer with peace of mind.
But we must balance the potential advantages to the individual and the protection of a person's civil liberties. Any tracking system must support and never replace good quality care.
Alzheimer's Society understands the safety of people with dementia is an important issue to address and people with dementia and carers have told us that they welcome technology like this if used in the right way.
– Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society
Hughes added that the society is working with organisations such as the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Missing Persons Bureau to ensure people with dementia feel secure and included in their communities wherever they live.
Police have defended their decision to buy GPS locating devices to trace dementia patients amid calls from some elder care campaigners for their withdrawal.
Sussex Police have bought six battery-powered locators as part of a bid to save money and time spent on searching for missing dementia patients.
The National Pensioners Convention described the introduction of the devices as "barbaric" and suggested sufferers could be stigmatised and made to feel like criminals.
But Sergeant Suzie Mitchell said: "The scheme is only costing Sussex Police a few hundred pounds but, comparing this to police time, resources, potential risk to the missing person, let alone the anxiety and worry for their family, it is, in my opinion, a few hundred pounds well spent."