Police searching for Nicola Bulley faces questions

Police force searching for Nicola Bulley faces questions over why it didn’t involve second constabulary a week after mother went missing – as ex-cop says they may have breached guidelines

  • Nicola Bully, 45, has been missing for two weeks after vanishing on dog walk
  • Lancashire Police has received some criticism over how it has handled case  

A former crime commissioner reckons the force looking for Nicola Bulley may have breached national policing guidelines.

Ex Dorset Police Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill says a second constabulary is recommended be brought in for a review within seven days is cases similar to Ms Bulley’s.

He told the Mirror: ‘You should get another force in to peer review what you’ve done.

‘It’s not only unusual, it also means they are going against national guidance. This is a very high profile case and we don’t know what’s happened.’

Lancashire Police has told the Mirror it understands such a move has not been made.

Nicola Bulley, 45, vanished on January 27 but has bit been seen since with no trace found

A police Search and Rescue team scan the banks of the River Wyre near to Shard Bridge as the search for missing Nicola Bulley continues

It comes as a close friend of missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley has told of the ‘agony’ of waiting for news, following an emotional vigil at their local village church two weeks after she vanished.

Ms Bulley, 45, and her family would attend medieval St Michael’s Church on the banks of the River Wyre in Lancashire, just a couple of hundred yards from where she disappeared.

The silent vigil was held before a small altar, with candles lit around a photo of smiling Ms Bulley and her partner, Paul Ansell.

Outside, lining the road through the village, friends of Ms Bulley again gathered for another roadside appeal.

Police crew searching for Nicola continued their work today as the hunt entered its third week

Friends of missing woman Nicola Bulley hold missing person appeal posters along the main road in the village in St Michael’s on Wyre

They held up placards featuring her photograph, in a plea to ‘bring Nikki home’ and appealing for information.

Nicola Bulley’s missing two hours: Detectives probe mystery gap between mother’s disappearance and first call to police – as three key CCTV blind-spots are identified 

Heather Gibbons, a family friend who attended the church vigil, said: ‘It’s the hub in the community, it’s a place where we’ve frequently been with Nikki. She would often be here with her girls and with Paul.

‘So yes, I’m sat in there thinking of the times where I’ve sat next to her, in the church, and really wishing I could go back … just, yeah, wishing she was here.

‘That’s exactly what it is, it’s an agonising wait, it’s almost a hell above hell, because the unknown is unbearable.

‘So, this morning at 10 o’clock we just opened the church for people to come and to light a candle, just to have a chance to come, a space to collect their thoughts, to be together.

‘It’s not a vigil in that we’ve lost hope, it’s almost trying to create that moment of hope for everybody to keep supporting one another.

‘We just needed a space to be able to think and pray and collect our thoughts for the family and for Nikki.

‘There’s been a lovely little turnout of people who just wanted to come and have that moment.

‘The family are on the worst rollercoaster of their lives, they are still holding on to hope, that there’s a chance we will get Nikki home safe.

‘They have the same thinking that nothing is making sense. They are just desperate for some evidence that will pinpoint exactly what has happened.’

A lifeboat sweeps the river Wyre multiple times where it meets the estuary of Morecambe Bay, in Lancashire, two weeks on from Nicola Bulley vanishing

Ms Bulley vanished while walking her springer spaniel dog Willow, alongside the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre on January 27.

She had dropped off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school and was on her usual walk when she disappeared, her phone – still connected to a call for her job as a mortgage advisor – was found on a bench overlooking the river.

Despite a huge search of the river and surrounding countryside by Lancashire Police, no trace of her has been found.

The force has discounted foul play and are treating the incident as a missing person enquiry, believing that Ms Bulley has fallen into the water.

Two weeks ago today, Nicola Bulley, 45, was last seen walking her dog on a footpath by the River Wyre off Garstang Road in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire. Her friend Emma White (pictured together) is among friends holding a vigil today

Friends of missing Nicola Bulley hold missing person appeal posters along the main road in the village in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire

But police say they are still keeping an ‘open mind’ and appealing for information.

Mrs Gibbons added: ‘At the moment the police have been clear as to what their working hypothesis is, but it is exactly that, it is a hypothesis.

‘I have spoken to police along with other friends and family and they have made it clear all avenues are still open.

‘They are encouraging everyone to keep open-minded, the words were, they have not got their blinkers on.

‘We are hopeful, we’re still holding on to hope.’

Focus of the police search on Thursday switched from St Michael’s to around 10 miles downstream where the river empties into the sea at Morecambe Bay, with police patrol boats and rescue boats spotted on the river and in the bay.

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