The family of missing schoolboy Liam Smith today made a plea to teens who feel “overwhelmed” to seek help.
Speaking on the three-month anniversary of the 16-year-old’s disappearance, his family today issued a statement praising police and thanking the public for their support, and a senior officer said the search will be scaled back in the next few days.
In the statement, Liam’s family said it has been an “incredibly difficult time” since he went missing on November 18.
They added: “We have been overwhelmed by the support from members of the public and the communities of the north-east.
“Understandably it has been a highly stressful and emotional time since Liam left home, and as a family we are struggling to come to terms with his disappearance.
“With this in mind, we ask that all new information is directed to the police and not the family.
“We recognise many people have been personally affected by this and have created messages to share online in order to raise awareness of Liam’s disappearance, which is something we appreciate greatly.
“We are extremely grateful to the police and those who have supported their inquiries including the mountain rescue teams of Braemar and Aberdeen.
“While we continue to hope that Liam will be found we are being realistic about the challenges around finding him.
“We believe Liam wasn’t feeling himself at the time he went missing and we would encourage any teenager who is feeling overwhelmed to speak to someone about their feelings.”
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Chief Inspector Martin Mackay said: “The response from the public to our appeals has been overwhelming and the communities of Crathes and Banchory have been particularly supportive.
“Extensive inquiries and intelligence-led searches have been carried out which has been challenging due to the difficult terrain.
“Reviews of the inquiry have been carried out and will continue as is standard with any long-term missing person investigation.
“At this stage we continue to search, but that will be scaled back over the next few days as we conclude the activity at Crathes.
“More than 200 sightings of Liam have been reported to us and every bit of information we have received we have followed up. However, our inquiries still suggest Liam would have travelled to the Crathes area and we urge anyone, particularly residents or those who work in this area to remain vigilant and report anything unusual to us.”