Nicola Bulley: Two watchdogs clear Lancashire Police of misconduct over case

Lancashire Police will not face any action over its handling of the disappearance of Nicola Bulley after investigations by two watchdogs.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has announced it will not be taking any enforcement action against the force over its disclosure of her personal information.

Meanwhile, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has cleared the Lancashire force of any wrongdoing but said it had identified two "areas of learning" over an officer's contact with Ms Bulley prior to her disappearance.

The 45-year-old mother was reported missing on 27 January in St Michael's on Wyre.

She was later found dead in the River Wyre on 19 February - more than three weeks later - after the search for her attracted national attention and so-called armchair detectives.

MPs and campaign groups voiced their disapproval after Lancashire Police chose to share elements of Ms Bulley's during the search - including her struggles with alcohol and perimenopause.

The ICO's deputy commissioner of regulatory policy Emily Keaney said the watchdog looked into why the force made Ms Bulley's private information public.

She said: "This was an important piece of work around a high-profile case.

"We wanted to reassure the public that there are rules in place to protect how personal information is used and shared, and we wanted to be clear that while police can disclose information to protect the public and investigate crime, they would need to be able to demonstrate such disclosure was necessary and proportionate."

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'We will never forget Nikki'

The IOPC also investigated Lancashire Police's previous contact with Ms Bulley.

Following the watchdog's decision not to take action against an officer who had met Ms Bulley on a previous call out before her disappearance, Lancashire Police clarified it had sent an officer to her address "in support of an ambulance deployment".

Assistance Chief Constable Sam Mackenzie said: "The IOPC investigators focused on the actions of one officer and have now completed their investigation and found no misconduct or wrongdoing.

"Whilst we do have some procedural learning it is important to note that our attendance was in support of an ambulance deployment and that the officer dealt with Nicola with compassion and empathy, putting her care at the forefront of his decision-making on that day."

Separately, the College of Policing will also conduct a review of how officers handled her case and will publish its findings in the autumn.