01/05/2013 02:10 BST | Updated 30/06/2013 06:12 BST

Campaign Groups Slam Sussex Police Plan To Track Dementia Patients With GPS Tags

Charity slams 'barbaric' plan to tag patients
Charity slams 'barbaric' plan to tag patients

Elderly care campaigners have branded a police force's decision to buy tracking devices for dementia patients as "completely wrong".

Sussex Police have bought 15 GPS tags in a bid to save money searching for pensioners who often go missing, according to the Daily Telegraph.

Chief Inspector Tanya Jones told the newspaper: "The GPS will be very cost-effective to the police. It will reduce anxiety for the family and really reduce the police time spent on this issue."

But Dot Gibson, general secretary of the National Pensioners Convention, described the policy as "barbaric".

She said: "I think they should withdraw it straight away. Trying to equate somebody who has committed a criminal act with somebody who is suffering dementia is completely wrong.

"I doubt whether anyone in the Cabinet would want their parents dealt with in this way if they were suffering from dementia."

Ms Gibson accused the authorities of "trying to get care on the cheap".

She said: "It looks at the problem in the wrong way. If you've got people in the community who are so bad that they are wandering off at night and are not safe, they should be properly cared for, they shouldn't be tagged.

"It's a crude form of monitoring when the issue needs a much more detailed response than this. This is a back-of-an-envelope response."

There are currently 800,000 people with dementia in the UK. A number of local authorities are already using similar devices to track sufferers, but this is believed to be the first time a police force has taken on such a scheme.