DELAYS at the start of an investigation into the whereabouts of a missing man had a serious impact in the search, his family has claimed.
Kieran Smith, 24, was last seen by his family at his home in Harcourt Road, Fareham, just after midday on Tuesday, March 10.
His family reported him missing immediately as they were concerned for his mental health after he was talked down from a 90ft pylon in Cosham the day before.
Step-dad Howard Payne, also of Harcourt Road, criticised the response from police within the first few days, saying they were slow and stalled when it came to releasing a photograph of Kieran that had been taken of him after the pylon incident, in which Kieran was wearing the same clothes that he was last seen in.
Mr Payne, 37, said: ‘I saw the picture on the lap of female officer who was sat in a police car by accident.
‘I was not happy that they were driving about with it in their car and they had not released it to us.’
He said that after that incident, which happened five days after Kieran went missing, the family complained to police, who then released the picture which the family turned into posters.
Kieran’s mum Linda Payne said she thought that if the picture had been released earlier it could have triggered someone’s memory.
Although Mr Payne added that since CID took over the case, the family has been much happier as the search was stepped up.
He said: ‘The original police officers were unbelievably poor.
‘They have since offered me the opportunity to make an official complaint but I told them I didn’t want to just yet as I want them to stay focused on the search and to keep the investigation on track.’
However, he urged people to keep up the momentum as the police can only search when they have information.
Police have been searching rural areas around Fareham, including off Ranvilles Lane, where Kieran was last spotted by a dog walker.
A police spokesman said they would not ordinarily issue a custody photo in relation to a missing person appeal, but had done so after Kieran had been missing for a week.
They said there were fears that if Kieran had seen the custody photo it might have affected his mental health.
Kieran, nicknamed Jibba, was last seen wearing a navy blue hoodie, grey jogging bottoms and white pumps. Call police on 101 with information.