Following two days of intensive search activity – involving hundreds of emergency service personnel, partner agencies and specialist volunteers – police have taken the decision to stand-down active searches for 70-year-old Andrew Latcham.
Mr Latcham was last seen on CCTV leaving supported accommodation on Park Road, Blandford Forum at around 3:30am in the early hours of Saturday 30 December 2017. He was wearing dark trainers with white soles, tracksuit bottoms and a dark raincoat.
Since then, searches have focused around the River Stour and other waterways that Andrew was familiar with as a kayaker, the Blandford Trailway and other footpaths, floodplains and open spaces in and around Blandford, and the routes and villages between Blandford and Hamworthy.
Inspector Darren Stanton explained: ‘For a complex search like this, we use specialist search advisors and make use of a wide array of resources; including the National Police Air Service helicopter, water-based search teams, off-road search vehicles and specially-trained teams on foot. I am grateful for all the specialist volunteers who assisted the search and recognise the desire of the local community to help in any way.
‘We have covered a lot of ground with this intensive search over the last two days. Unfortunately, we have now come to a point where we have exhausted this search option. With the significant rainfall and passage of time, it is sadly very unlikely we would find Andrew safe and well by continuing this approach. We therefore have to take advice from specialists and consider the continued risk to others of searching in dangerous conditions. While some local and intelligence-led searches will continue, local people will not see the same level of visible activity.
‘We will of course respond to any new information that comes to light and I would ask people to check their private outbuildings and gardens if they have not done so already. If anyone has seen someone matching Andrew’s description since Saturday morning or knows anything else that could help, please let us know. However, I would like to assure you that extensive searches have been carried out, including areas mentioned by the public on social media.
‘We have updated Andrew’s family about this decision and they are very grateful for the efforts made by all the emergency services, partner agencies and volunteers so far. We will continue to support them during this upsetting time.’
If anyone has new information, please call Dorset Police on 101 quoting incident 30:121.