Essex Police’s Operation Harrier with GPS Tracker


Caring for individuals facing challenges such as aging or memory-related conditions, like Alzheimer’s and dementia, is a matter of profound societal importance. Providing assistance to vulnerable members of our community not only reflects our shared values of compassion and empathy but also contributes significantly to maintaining their well-being.

Essex police started a plan called Operation Harrier to look after older people and make sure they don’t go missing. They began this in 2019, and with the help of technology, Essex police has stopped 704 cases of missing people. This plan focuses on those who are vulnerable, especially those with Alzheimer’s and dementia.


Here’s how Operation Harrier works: they give GPS tracker devices to people with dementia who have gone missing before. This device shows where the person is in real-time and sends alerts based on settings like geofencing.


GPS trackers are helpful in Operation Harrier because they work in areas where phones may not have coverage. They also have features like geofencing, where a safe zone is marked, and if the person being monitored leaves that area, the police and families get a notification on their phone or computer.


Essex Police has achieved a lot with Operation Harrier. Inspector Terry Jacobs mentions that the risk level is decided case by case, and people with Alzheimer’s or dementia are usually considered high risk. Operation Harrier has already made a difference by preventing over 700 cases of missing persons. If each of these cases had turned into a high-risk missing person, it would have saved up to £1.7 million in police efficiency, allowing officers to keep fighting crime in Essex.


Katie Steven adds that this year, they have found thousands of missing people, thanks to the collaborative effort of various teams in Essex Police, including PCs, Missing Person Liaison Officers, drone teams, dog units, and specialist search teams. They often get support from the National Police Air Service helicopter and Essex Search and Rescue, who play a crucial role in finding vulnerable people.

Essex Police’s proactive approach through initiatives like Operation Harrier deserves commendation for its unwavering commitment to safeguarding vulnerable individuals within the community. The implementation of GPS trackers to aid in locating missing elderly persons, especially those battling Alzheimer’s and dementia, showcases a thoughtful and practical response to the unique challenges faced by this demographic. By addressing the specific needs of individuals with memory-related conditions, Essex Police not only demonstrates a deep understanding of the vulnerabilities involved but also actively contributes to enhancing public safety. The success of Operation Harrier in preventing over 700 missing person incidents underscores the positive impact that strategic and compassionate law enforcement efforts can have on the lives of those most in need. This initiative serves as a testament to Essex Police’s dedication to community welfare and highlights the importance of tailored measures in ensuring the security and well-being of our most vulnerable citizens.