Nicola Bulley's family home was visited by police two weeks before disappearance due to 'significant alcohol issues'

15 February 2023, 17:36 | Updated: 17 February 2023, 15:25

Nicola Bulley has been missing since January 27
Nicola Bulley has been missing since January 27. Picture: Alamy/Social Media
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Nicola Bulley had been suffering with "significant" alcohol issues in the months before her disappearance, brought on by her "ongoing struggles with the menopause", police said today.

At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Lancashire Police said Ms Bulley is being treated as a "high-risk" missing person with "specific vulnerabilities", but originally refused to elaborate further.

A spokesperson for Lancashire Police has since confirmed that Ms Bulley had "suffered with some significant issues with alcohol" before she went missing.

"Nicola’s family continue to be our absolute focus and our thoughts remain with them," a spokesperson for Lancashire Police said.

Read the latest: 'We need a breakthrough': Nicola Bulley's father tells of 'daily struggle' as hunt enters fourth week

"We have specially trained officers who continue to support them and update them daily. We have described how Nicola had some vulnerabilities at the time she went missing and we just wanted to expand on that a little.

"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.

Nicola Bulley celebrating her 45th birthday last year
Nicola Bulley celebrating her 45th birthday last year. Picture: Facebook

"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."

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Referring to Ms Bulley's partner Paul Ansell, she told a press conference: "It's normal in any missing person investigation that you obviously gather as much information at an early stage about the person in question, which is no different and we did that with Paul.

"I'm not going to go into the details of those individual vulnerabilities. I've asked you to respect the family, who are going through unimaginable pain and distress at this moment.

"But those vulnerabilities based our decision-making in terms of grading Nicola as high risk and have continued to form part of my investigation throughout."

Asked if she hoped to find her alive, Det Supt Smith said: "I hope with all my heart that we find Nicola Bulley alive more than anything."

It comes after diving specialist Peter Faulding told LBC Nicola Bulley's family confirmed to him that she had no underlying issues, despite today's admission by police.

Peter Faulding joined police in the search for Nicola Bulley
Peter Faulding joined police in the search for Nicola Bulley. Picture: Getty

"I've spoken to the family in depth and the family confirmed to me that there were no underlying issues with Nicola. This is from her sister, this is from Emma, this is from Paul [Nicola's Partner]," Mr Faulding told LBC's Tom Swarbrick.

"They were talking about a spa day the night before messaging each other. There was not any inkling that there was anything wrong at that stage."

Mr Faulding also confirmed that it would have been standard for him to have been briefed on specific issues Ms Bulley may have had when she went missing.

Private investigator on Nicola Bulley case, says family 'confirmed she had no underlying issues'

It is still the "main working hypothesis" that Nicola Bulley fell into the River Wyre before going missing, she said, adding that detectives are keeping an open mind on the mother-of-two's disappearance.

Hitting out at "TikTok amateur detectives" the officer leading the investigation said efforts of social media commentators have "significantly distracted the investigation."