Families of other missing people 'traumatised' by media's Nicola Bulley fixation, charity says

Paul Joseph said the families of other missing people will be asking: 'Why didn’t we get this attention?' (ITV/PA)
Paul Joseph said the families of other missing people will be asking: 'Why didn’t we get this attention?' (ITV/PA)

Families of missing people will be “traumatised” by the media’s constant reporting on Nicola Bulley, a charity boss has said.

Paul Joseph, from the Missing People charity, said some people will be asking: “Why didn’t we get this attention?”

The case of Bulley, the 45-year-old mother-of-two who went missing three weeks ago, has been extensively covered by all national media outlets since her disappearance on 27 January.

Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Friday, Joseph, head of helplines, said: “I think, from the families we work with, the inconsistency of [media] response is always something they would say is difficult to deal with.

“And I would think the families, at this point, seeing something like this happen, of course they will be really traumatised by thinking about the early stages of when their person went missing.

Read more: Nicola Bulley: 8 key developments and updates from the past week

“People will think: ‘Why didn’t we get this attention?’”

According to Missing People’s statistics, someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK, with 170,000 people reported missing every year.

He added of Bulley's case: “At a point where there is so much media speculation and social media speculation, I would say if people want to do something to help, rather than share things that are unfounded [Lancashire Police this week complained about “persistent myths” being circulated]… go on something like our website and see who’s missing in your area and share appeals.”

Watch: Father of missing Nicola Bulley hopes for 'breakthrough'

Asked if he has seen patterns on which cases are prioritised in terms of publicity, Joseph said: “There is always that aspect of ‘slow news day’ - what happens to get traction at a certain time - and there are other things around demographics, who the people are… we’ve heard from families from different communities, ethnic minority backgrounds, who maybe say the response isn’t as ideal.

“But of course a big part of it is what information is available at the time someone has gone missing, and what the police know in order to put their resources into it to know that something's high-risk.”

Last week, the family of a missing man presumed to have fallen into a river slammed police's handling of the case.

Family and friends of Mark Bishop criticised police for 'doing nothing' to look for him despite parallels with the ongoing hunt for Bulley.

They said police have made them feel like 'Mark doesn't exist' and declared: "Surely my uncle is just as important as this poor woman."

Police revealed this week Bulley was graded as high-risk due to “specific vulnerabilities” - which officers then controversially revealed were “significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause”.