Active searches for missing pensioner Andrew Latcham have been stood down today, police have confirmed.

Officers said it was a 'difficult decision' after two days of intensive search activity. His family have been informed.

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 said: "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."

Andrew has dementia and other medical issues, which mean police and his family are particularly worried he may come to harm. Police say leaving his accommodation was 'incredibly out-of-character', especially in the middle of the night. 

Blandford residents are now being urged to check their gardens and outbuildings in case he has wandered in.

His family have provided two new photographs which were taken only a few weeks ago.

Based on an improved description, Andrew currently has dark-coloured hair, and not as previously reported by police, however he is clean-shaven rather than having the beard shown in these photos.

He was wearing white trainers, tracksuit bottoms and a dark-coloured raincoat without a hat. 

Police say prior to moving to Blandford, Andrew grew up in Hamworthy and also spent time living in Spetisbury, where he had close friends and family.

In his younger years, he was a keen kayaker and was familiar with the local rivers. He worked as a landscape gardener - including sometimes along the Blandford Trailway - and regularly took long walks.

Speaking yesterday, Inspector Darren Stanton said: "Given Andrew's hobbies and history, our searches have been focused on the waterways in and around Blandford, as well as the Trailway, footpaths and bridleways. We are also searching locations along the route of the A350 between Blandford, Spetisbury and Hamworthy. It is possible that he is trying to retrace routes or visit places he is familiar with.

"Dorset Police has been assisted in the search by a wide range of partner agencies and specialist volunteers. This has included the National Police Air Service, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, plus volunteers from Dorset Search & Rescue, Wessex 4x4 Response, and Dorset and Hampshire Search Dogs. I am grateful for all their help.

"Blandford has a close-knit community, so there has been a massive outpouring of support and concern, which is appreciated. I would encourage anyone with private CCTV in their home or business to view it for any sign of Andrew after 3:30am on Saturday morning, and to check their gardens and outbuildings in case he is sheltering.

"However, we have to discourage the general public from joining the main search. This is because the searches are focused mainly on rivers and floodplains that could be dangerous in the current weather conditions and as darkness falls. We have had lots of specially trained emergency services personnel and volunteers carrying out thorough searches of these areas."

Anyone with new information should call Dorset Police on 101 quoting incident number 30:121.