Lancashire police 'refused extra help' during 23 day search for Nicola Bulley

22 February 2023, 12:09 | Updated: 23 February 2023, 14:39

Lancashire Police 'refused extra help' in search for Nicola Bulley during their search for the missing mum.
Lancashire Police 'refused extra help' in search for Nicola Bulley during their search for the missing mum. . Picture: Alamy / Lancashire Police / LBC/ PA

By Hannah Holland

Lancashire Police's decision to turn down additional support in the search for Nicola Bulley has been branded "inexcusable" as pressure mounts for an independent inquiry into their handling of the search.

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Lancashire Police 'refused extra help' in search for Nicola Bulley during their search for the missing mum.

External police forces and search and rescue teams are claiming to have offered assistance, but were turned down by the force who insisted the "relevant areas" had already been cleared and did not need to be redone.

The 45-year-old was found on Sunday morning in the River Wyre in Lancashire after 23 days of searching.

After officers focused search efforts more than five miles from where she vanished, the body of the mum-of-two was eventually discovered less than a mile from where she was last seen in St Michael’s on Wyre.

Police officers walk past flowers and yellow ribbons tied to a bridge over the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre.
Police officers walk past flowers and yellow ribbons tied to a bridge over the River Wyre in St Michael's on Wyre. Picture: Alamy

Lancashire Police are carrying out their own internal review of the search for Bulley.

A search and rescue source told The Sun that the police's decision to turn down additional support was "inexcusable" and that the claim that areas did not need to be recovered was "bizarre".

"You go back and recast those areas. It’s completely strange to decline free resources", they added.

“There could have been hundreds of trained people helping.

“Search people should have found her body — and it should have been dignified.”

Lancashire Police's assistant chief constable Peter Lawson and detective chief superintendent Pauline Stables confirmed that the body found was Nicola Bulley.

READ MORE: Body found in river identified as missing mum-of-two Nicola Bulley who went missing 23 days ago

The 45-year-old was found on Sunday morning in the River Wyre in Lancashire after 23 days of searching.
The 45-year-old was found on Sunday morning in the River Wyre in Lancashire after 23 days of searching. . Picture: Alamy

Lowland Rescue, an organisation which has 36 teams and 1,800 qualified search and rescue volunteers, offered to send manpower and resources to assist the search as it entered its third week.

But a response from chief constable Lawson read: “Many thanks for your message and offer of support. It has been genuinely heart-warming to receive the offers we have from across both the policing family and UK Search and Rescue organisations.

“Land searches were conducted in the initial stages of the search — before there was any real media interest, so largely unreported.

“These searches include police officers, mountain rescue, search dogs and the fire service.

“At this time there are no plans for further land searches as we are satisfied we have cleared the relevant areas with appropriate resources.”

The 45-year-old was last spotted on Friday, January 27, while walking her dog along a riverside footpath near St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire.
The 45-year-old was last spotted on Friday, January 27, while walking her dog along a riverside footpath near St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire. Picture: Facebook

The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley told Nick Ferrari that his force had offered their help in the search and would be willing to carry out a review of the investigation.

READ MORE: 'Time will tell' if Lancashire Police was right to release Nicola Bulley's problems, Britain's top cop says

This comes as pressure mounts to launch an independent inquiry into Lancashire Police's handling of the search.

READ MORE: Pressure grows on police after Nicola Bulley was found by dog walkers and it emerges police searched 5 miles away

The 45-year-old was last spotted on Friday, January 27, while walking her dog along a riverside footpath near St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire.

Lancashire Police revealed Ms Bulley's problems after a press conference.
Lancashire Police revealed Ms Bulley's problems after a press conference. Picture: Alamy

Lancashire Police force came under fire for revealing that Ms Bulley was classed as a "high risk" individual in the investigation due to her struggles with alcohol and the menopause.

A former Detective Chief Inspector said the release of information was "victim blaming" designed to protect the force, accusing it of "destroying her reputation", while Labour's shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper described it as "surprising".

READ MORE: 'Destroying her reputation': Lancashire Police slammed for releasing Nicola Bulley's personal details

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