Nicola Bulley: What investigations have been launched and why?

Nicola Bulley: What investigations have been launched and why?

Since Nicola Bulley disappeared, the police, social media sleuths and the media have all received widespread criticism.

The 45-year-old’s body was pulled from the River Wye in Lancashire on Sunday but a number of questions have been left unanswered.

Here, the PA news agency looks at what investigations have been launched since her body was recovered and why they are necessary.

– College of Policing

Lancashire’s police and crime commissioner Andrew Snowden said he has commissioned the College of Policing to conduct a “full independent review” into Lancashire Constabulary’s handling of the case.

The Tory PCC said the review would have three clear areas of focus: investigation and search, communication and public engagement, and the releasing of personal information.

The announcement came after the force was criticised for releasing Ms Bulley’s personal details into the public domain, including her struggles with alcohol and perimenopause.

The force is also yet to address why it took 23 days for Ms Bulley’s body to be found and its handling of social media sleuths who filmed themselves in back gardens searching for the mother-of-two.

– Independent Office for Police Conduct

The watchdog has launched an investigation after a welfare check was carried out at Ms Bulley’s home 17 days before she went missing.

The IOPC said it was notified that an officer visited the address to conduct the check on January 10.

Nicola Bulley missing
Police visited Ms Bulley’s home on January 10 (Jason Roberts/PA)

It is understood the investigation will focus only on the interaction officers had with Ms Bulley’s family on that date, and does not relate to the wider investigation into her disappearance.

The IOPC said the investigation was in its “very early stages”.

– Information Commissioner’s Office

The ICO has made initial inquiries with the force to understand the reasons for disclosing Ms Bulley’s personal information in a press conference.

In a statement, a spokeswoman said officials will “assess the information provided to consider whether any further action is necessary”.

It is understood the ICO’s inquiries will be taken into consideration by the independent review by the College of Policing.

– Ofcom

The media watchdog said it was “extremely concerned” by comments from Ms Bulley’s family about the press after her body was found on Sunday.

Paul Ansell, partner of Nicola Bulley
Paul Ansell, partner of Nicola Bulley (PA)

In a press conference at Lancashire Constabulary’s headquarters on Monday, a statement from the family said: “We tried last night to take in what we had been told in the day, only to have Sky News and ITV making contact with us directly when we expressly asked for privacy.

“They again have taken it upon themselves to run stories about us to sell papers and increase their own profits. It is shameful they have acted in this way. Leave us alone now.”

Ofcom wrote to ITV and Sky to ask them to “explain their actions”, with both organisations reportedly working closely with Ofcom to answer its questions.

– The inquest

The inquest into Ms Bulley’s death is likely to take place in June, when a coroner will seek to determine how she died.

An inquest opener at Preston Coroner’s Court was told maxillofacial surgeon Andrew Ian Edwards had examined her dental records, which had been obtained by police from her dental surgery.

Senior coroner Dr James Adeley said remaining evidence gathered by police and the post-mortem examination required “further evaluation”.

– Social media sleuths

New code of practice to boost users safety
A number of social media content creators descended on the village (Yui Mok/PA)

Experts have claimed social media algorithms that reward and encourage controversial content fuelled the waves of online interest in Ms Bulley’s case.

After she went missing, reports emerged of a number of apparent content creators descending on the village where the mother-of-two went missing.

Social media influencer Dan Duffy was given a fixed penalty notice under section 4 of the Public Order Act – fear or provocation of violence – after he was arrested while filming for his YouTube channel, called Exploring With Danny.

Duffy, who has more than 200,000 subscribers, said he joined the search because he “wants some answers”, and in one video, he said he had “actually been in people’s back gardens at night-time with torches” searching for Ms Bulley.