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  • Writer's pictureNEMM

MP 'deeply uncomfortable' with police after personal details given in national missing person case

Rutland and Melton MP Alicia Kearns has joined a number of MPs who have criticised a police force's decision to release personal details about a missing person.

Dog walker Nicola Bulley went missing in the Lancashire village of St Michael's On Wyre on 27th January and the case has gathered national momentum with many people across the country keen to bring Nicola (45) home to her two girls and partner Paul.

Yesterday during a police press conference Senior Investigating Officer Det Supt Rebecca Smith said she was listed as high risk because of a "number of specific vulnerabilities".

She said: "As soon as she was reported missing, following the information that was provided to the police by her partner Paul and based on a number of specific vulnerabilities that we were made aware of, Nicola was graded high-risk."

Missing mum of two Nicola Bulley and her dog Willow. Photo: Lancashire Police

Following the press conference, in an unprecedented twist, a further statement was issued by the Lancashire Force which went in to a lot more detail about Nicola's personal circumstances.

The statement said: "Today we held a live press conference to provide some updates in relation to our search for missing mum Nicola Bulley.

We described how Nicola had some vulnerabilities at the time she went missing and we just wanted to expand on that a little. It's really unusual for us 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."

A missing poster of Nicola at the entrance to the footpath along the River Wyre. Photo: NEMM

The Force added: "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 10th. No one has been arrested in relation to this incident, but it is being investigated.

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."

The bench where Nicola's phone was found along with her dog, Willow. Photo: NEMM

Today (Thursday) a number of high-profile people have hit back at Lancashire Police for their handling of the case and the information provided to the public.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper told Sky News the release of such details was "very unusual", adding: "I do have a lot of questions and concerns about that.

"I would want to speak directly to Lancashire Police about their reasons for doing so before commenting further, because I know there can be complicated reasons for police decisions," she said.

Rutland and Melton MP Alicia Kearns, who is also chair of the foreign affairs committee, took to Twitter to say she was 'deeply uncomfortable' with the information released.

She said: "I am deeply uncomfortable with the police releasing Nicola Bulley's so-called "vulnerabilities" on menopause & alcohol. I struggle to ascertain how this will assist Police in their search & investigations. I do see how it would assist those wishing to victim-blame or diminish."

Questions have also been raised about the police revealing they had attended Nicola's home the week before she disappeared to check her welfare.

Lancashire Police's main working hypothesis is that Nicola fell in the River Wyre. Photo: NEMM

Nicola was first reported missing on the morning of 27th January 2023. After dropping her two children off at a local primary school she took her dog, Willow, on a dog walk, while on a work Teams call.

At 08:43am Nicola took her pet Willow for a walk along the path by the River Wyre, heading towards a gate in the lower field. She was later seen by another dog walker who was familiar with her.

Lancashire Police have carried out a number of land, river and sea searches. Photo: NEMM

At 09:20am Nicola's phone remained in proximity to the bench where it was later recovered. 10 minutes later, the Teams call ended, however, her mobile remained logged on.

At 09:33am Another dog walker recovered Nicola's phone on a bench beside the river - Willow was also found darting between the two.

At 10:50am Nicola's family and the schools attended by her children were informed of her disappearance.

Nicola's family have hit out at public speculation in a recent statement and say they were aware of the information being released.

In a statement issued on Thursday, via Lancashire Police, the family said: "It has now been three weeks since Nikki went missing. We, as a family, believe that the public focus has become distracted from finding Nikki, and more about speculation and rumours into her and Paul's private life.

"As a family, we were aware beforehand that Lancashire Police, last night, released a statement with some personal details about our Nikki.

"Although we know that Nikki would not have wanted this, there are people out there speculating and threatening to sell stories about her. This is appalling and needs to stop.

"The police know the truth about Nikki and now the public need to focus on finding her.

"Due to the peri menopause Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and was taking HRT to help but this was giving her intense headaches which caused Nikki to stop taking the HRT thinking that may have helped her but only ended up causing this crisis.

"The public focus has to be on finding her and not making up wild theories about her personal life.

"Despite what some media outlets and individuals are suggesting, we are being updated daily and receive support from our family liaison officers.

"Nikki is such a wonderful daughter, sister , partner and mother and is missed dearly - we all need you back in our lives.

"Nikki, we hope you are reading this and know that we love you so much and your girls want a cuddle. We all need you home. You can reach out to us, or you can contact Don't be scared, we all love you so very much."

Anyone with information on Nicola's disappearance are being asked to report it here - for any immediate sightings call 999.

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