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Family’s grievance over hunt for Tom
5:30am Friday 20th December 2013 in News
THE family of Tom Edwards have lodged a formal complaint over Wiltshire Police’s actions in the early days of the Nationwide worker’s disappearance this summer.
Tom, whose body was later found by the side of a railway line, went missing after a night out in Swindon on June 28 and was found after a five-day search by friends, family and police on July 3.
On the night of his disappearance, police officers who saw the 32-year-old walking in Church Place took him to a bus stop outside the Swindon Designer Outlet Village.
But CCTV footage from Swindon railway station showed Tom, of Derry Hill, boarding the 11.21pm train to Bristol Temple Meads and his body was found close to the railway line between Chippenham and Bath.
A complaint from the family referring to police contact before Tom went missing and action taken during the search has been passed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Tom’s older brother Will Edwards said the family was broadly happy with the police action, but they believe that more could have been done at the start of the investigation.
He hopes the police will look at the process of searching for missing people so if the same chain of events happens to someone else they will be found quicker.
Will said: “It’s not necessarily a complaint but my mum handed in a diary of events and basically they admitted Tom would have been found sooner.
“There was a 12 hour period before Tom's phone was pinged and they knew the phone was in the Chippenham area. Before that most of the stuff was being done through us.
“Eventually he was found and we were lucky in that sense – the thought of not knowing was not worth thinking about.”
Wiltshire Police also made a mandatory referral to the IPCC following Tom’s death as he had contact with the police prior to going missing.
Detective Chief Superintendent Kier Pritchard said: “The IPCC recommended that Wiltshire Police should undertake a local investigation to establish the facts, the sequence of events and their consequences. The subsequent report has outlined some areas of improvement which Wiltshire Police will take on board and will ensure any learning is incorporated appropriately.
“We can also confirm that a complaint was received by Wiltshire Police from a member of Mr Edwards’s family. This complaint referred to the police contact before he went missing and the action during the search for Mr Edwards. This complaint was also referred to the IPCC.”
The family, who expect an inquest into Tom’s death to take place in March, will spend Christmas supporting his widow Dee at the couple’s home.
l Will is running the Bath half marathon in March for WILSAR, the search and rescue team which helped find Tom.To donate visit mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/runfortom
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