Police Scotland is encouraging residents in the Highlands & Islands to sign up to a free app which provides community alerts of a person with dementia has been reported missing.

Purple Alert was launched by Alzheimer Scotland last year and creates a way of sharing information which could help return vulnerable people home safely.

The app - endorsed by Police Scotland - works best if a number of people in a community have downloaded it in order to share details and possible sighting of the missing person.

The app, which is available on iPhone and Android, uses GPS technology to send an alert to all users within a 30-mile radius.

Sergeant David Campbell, Highlands and Islands Division missing persons co-ordinator, is encouraging people to download Purple Alert during the first Scottish Missing Persons Week which runs from Monday, May 28 until Sunday, June 3.

He said: "People go missing for a variety of reasons and unfortunately people who have dementia becoming lost or disorientated is something that we can be faced with.

"This not only puts the missing person at risk but it also causes considerable distress for their loved ones.

"Speed is of the essence in any missing person enquiry - the longer someone is missing, particularly if they are vulnerable, then the greater the risk to them.

"New technologies such as the Purple Alert app can be an invaluable aid as they allow information to be shared quickly in the local area.

"I would encourage as many people as possible to download it so they can play their part in looking after vulnerable people in our communities.

"It is easy to use and by downloading it you could play your part in helping us get a person with dementia home safely."

Joyce Gray, Deputy Director of Development for Alzheimer Scotland, added: “Purple Alert is a community based app for people living with dementia to support in a missing person search or for those who have lost their way and sits alongside the important work of the Police Scotland National Missing Persons Unit.

"The app shares key information at the point of crisis and allows for more eyes and ears on the ground helping with the immediate search.

“Our continued partnership with Police Scotland has helped to strengthen the reach of our app and has supported increased trust in the app from the public.

"We’d thank the Highlands and Islands Division for their support and for helping to increase awareness of the app during this important action week.”

The Purple Alert app has been specially designed by people living with dementia by Alzheimer Scotland.  To find out more about Purple Alert or to download the app, visit  
www.dementiacircle.org and click on the Purple Alert icon.