Nicola Bulley cops found to be ‘in need of improvement’ before mum went missing

The police force charged with investigating the disappearance of 45-year-old mum Nicola Bulley were already labelled as “needing improvement” months before taking on the case.

Lancashire Police has been heavily criticised for the way it handled the search for Nicola, who was found three weeks after going missing.

Her body was spotted in the water by locals walking near the River Wyre – and area previously searched by the police under the spotlight of the world's media.

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Police force bosses held press conferences about the case and were accused of unnecessarily revealing personal information about Nicola.

And it has now emerged they were told that they were in need of improvement months before it all took place.

A report carried out in October, 2022, by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary discovered that investigations “aren't always carried out in a timely manner and sometimes lack effective investigation plans, which are poorly supervised”.

They added: “This means relevant lines of enquiry may be missed.

“Further work is required to improve the quality of its investigations into less serious offences, particularly those led by response officers.

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“Due to their inexperience, investigation plans should be created, and increased supervisory oversight is needed to ensure all investigative opportunities are taken.”

Nicola's body was found in the River Wyre on February 19.

A review into the force's handling of it was announced on Friday (February 24).

Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden said: “The public understandably feel that there remain questions about the handling of elements of the police investigation, how it was communicated, and the decision to release personal information, which need to be answered and explained.

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“In my role as Commissioner, as the public’s voice in policing in Lancashire, I also need to put in place the appropriate scrutiny to seek the right assurances and to ensure I am effectively holding the Constabulary to account.

“I have therefore taken the decision to commission a full independent review into the handling of this case, with clearly defined terms of reference, to ensure lessons can be learned, not just for Lancashire, but for all forces.

“This includes how such cases can be best investigated and communicated under such spotlight and scrutiny.”

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