Watchdog contact Lancashire Police over information released about Nicola Bulley
Lancashire Police have been contacted by the police watchdog over information released to the public in the Nicola Bulley case.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has said they have spoken with Lancashire Police over the information made public in a press conference about Nicola Bulley’s private life.
Yesterday Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson and Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith spoke to the press after Nicola was still missing after 19 days.
She was last seen at around 9.20am on Friday, January 27 – and police have said they have a ‘working hypothesis’ that she fell into the nearby River Wyre.
Speaking on behalf of the force they said Nicola was a ‘high risk’ missing persons case and later in a statement said she ‘struggled with alcohol and menopause’ before disappearing.
They initially said she was deemed a higher risk because of her ‘vulnerabilities’.
Today police were accused of ‘victim blaming’ by MPs and campaign groups after it released the sensitive information.
A statement issued by Lancashire Police read: ‘Sadly, it is clear from speaking to Paul and the family that Nicola had in the past suffered with some significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause and that these struggles had resurfaced over recent months.
‘This caused some real challenges for Paul and the family.
‘As a result of those issues, a response car staffed by both police and health professionals attended a report of concern for welfare at Nicola’s home address on January 10.
‘No one has been arrested in relation to this incident, but it is being investigated.
‘It is an unusual step for us to take to go into this level of detail about someone’s private life, but we felt it was important to clarify what we meant when we talked about vulnerabilities to avoid any further speculation or misinterpretation.
In a statement, a spokesman for the IOPC said: ‘Following information that was made public by Lancashire Constabulary yesterday, we have made contact with the force to determine if a referral to the IOPC may be required.’
‘We have explained to Nicola’s family why we have released this further information and we would ask that their privacy is respected at this difficult time.’
Lancashire Police along with a number of other specialist teams spent days dredging the River Wyre in Lancashire, which is close to the last place she was seen after she dropped her two daughters at school.
The force reiterated that there is no evidence to indicate a criminal aspect to the case.
Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson said: ‘I would emphasise that it remains the case there is no evidence to indicate a criminal aspect or third party involvement in Nicola’s disappearance.
‘However, the officers involved in the investigation are the same experienced specialists and many senior officers who are concerned with the investigation of the most serious and complex crimes.’
They continued to say her disappearance was not being treated as suspicious.
Meanwhile Ms Bulley’s friends and neighbours, including her next-door neighbour and friend Charlotte Drake, have continued to flock to a bridge over the Wyre to lay yellow ribbons with messages which say they still hope she will be found safe and well.
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