What's happening? Police are continuing to investigate the disappearance of dog walker Nicola Bulley after revealing the missing woman struggled with alcohol and menopause.
Bulley, 45, disappeared while walking her dog Willow in St.Michael’s on Wyre on 27 January. She was last seen walking in the area at around 9.10am, while her mobile phone and dog harness were discovered on a bench at 9.33am.
On Wednesday, three weeks into the investigation, police shared intimate details about the high-risk status of Bulley as a result of "vulnerabilities" highlighted to the police by her family - immediately prompting a backlash from many quarters and prompting the police watchdog to contact Lancashire Constabulary.
Yahoo News UK runs you through the latest developments on Thursday, including a statement released by the Bulley family in response to the backlash:
Nicola Bulley police spark anger
Thursday morning saw criticism from campaigners and MPs intensify after Lancashire Police shared details about Bulley's struggles with alcohol and menopause the evening before.
Among those to question the police's strategy was Labour MP Stella Creasy, who tweeted: "The decision to disclose this level of detail on a missing person's private life, with no evidence that this is assisting in finding her, is deeply troubling. The police need to be much clearer as to why any of this helps find Nicola Bulley or support this investigation."
The Conservative MP and chair of the foreign affairs committee, Alicia Kearns, added: “I am deeply uncomfortable with the police releasing Nicola Bulley’s so-called “vulnerabilities” on menopause & alcohol. I struggle to ascertain how this will assist police in their search and investigations. I do see how it would assist those wishing to victim-blame or diminish.”
Later on Thursday, home secretary Suella Braverman demanded an “explanation” from Lancashire Police as to why aspects of missing Nicola Bulley’s private life were disclosed.
A number of other elected officials and campaigners called into question the latest move by police, while former murder detective Martyn Underhill told Yahoo News UK: "It’s extremely unusual to go into so much detail, and what message does that send to every woman on the planet who struggles with menopause?"
Read more: Nicola Bulley: MPs criticise police over release of personal details (The Guardian, 3 min read)
Nicola Bulley diving expert 'would have done things differently'
The expert diver who conducted a search of the River Wyre near to where Bulley was last seen said on Thursday he would have searched differently if police had told him about the "vulnerabilities" that prompted Bulley to be classified as a high-risk missing person.
He told Sky News: "If somebody tries to drown themselves or if they are in a strange state of mind they might just wander off somewhere. She might be lying in a ditch, she could have wandered into the woods.
"So that's the point with a vulnerable person, you don't know where they're going to go. It would have changed our whole search."
Read more: 'Crucial information' not shared with underwater search team (Lancashire Telegraph, 2 min read)
Police watchdog on alert
It has also emerged that Lancashire Constabulary has been contacted by the police watchdog following the press conference in which they outlined Bulley's struggles with alcohol.
While no specific statement from Lancashire police appears to have prompted the move, it came in the aftermath of the press conference in which police detailed Bulley's vulnerabilities and confirmed they had attended her address on 10 January on a concern for welfare callout.
Later on Thursday, it emerged Lancashire Police referred themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct
Read more: Police watchdog contacts Lancashire Constabulary (The Independent, 2 min read)
The Bulley family statement
Following the backlash over Lancashire Police's decision to release intimate details about the missing woman, her family released a heartfelt statement in which they said they had been made aware of the press conference content ahead of time.
In the statement, released through Lancashire Police, Nicola Bulley’s family said the public focus has "become distracted from finding Nikki, and more about speculation and rumours into her and Paul’s private life".
The family said they knew police were releasing the private details about Bulley, adding a emotional plea for her to get in touch: “Nikki, we hope you are reading this and know that we love you so much and your girls want a cuddle. We all need you home. You can reach out to us, or you can contact MissingPeople.org.uk. Don’t be scared, we all love you so very much."
Read more: Bulley family pleads for end to speculation - full statement (PA, 3 min read)
Nicola Bulley investigation
Third party may be involved, says ex-murder detective (Yahoo News UK)