An ex-Lancashire police officer has said he believes the police have done all they can in Nicola Bulley’s disappearance.
Bob Eastwood retired from the force over nine years ago, and says the fact that Lancashire police started looking in the river as soon as she disappeared has shown they tried.
Mr Eastwood said: “I think from a personal perspective and what I've observed through the media and press releases the police have embarked upon, they have done all they can to investigate this very mysterious disappearance.
“I think they’ve put a lot of resources into it, the very fact that the first day Nicola went missing, the police were looking in the river."
In the second week of Nicola Bulley’s disappearance, Lancashire police had a working hypothesis that the mother of two fell into the River Wyre, which Mr Eastwood believed caused confusion.
“I think what’s caused a lot of confusion, is that they came up with a working hypothesis which personally I think they were right to do," he said.
“I think the most logical conclusion that could be drawn is that Nicola went into the river, I think they investigated every other single option and I think that was the most sensible conclusion they came to.”
Since Nicola went missing, the force has been criticised for releasing private information about their investigation.
“There will have been mistakes, there always is. In any organisation, there will always be things to learn to do things better, the police are no different," he said.
“What I do think they may want to revisit is the way in which they engage with the media."
The case attracted the attention of ‘TikTok detectives’ and media from across the country, with many people speculating where the 45-year-old went.
“It must have been an absolute onslaught," continued Mr Eastwood.
"It wasn't just the press, and the other news outlets, there were also a lot of amateur news reporters, people on TikTok and I think that has overwhelmed the police resources, let’s not forget they also came into the village of St Michael’s and harassed the local residents.
“All this needs to be understood in context that it must have been a very demanding period for Lancashire police, notwithstanding they had the rest of Lancashire to police as well.”
The search predominantly focused on the River Wyre, the last place Nicola was seen.
A specialist group also joined the search but Mr Eastwood says these groups are also to blame for the distrust.
He said: “I’m sure there are some trust issues, without doubt and I think some of those were created by these so-called specialists that came in, who operated under the umbrella that they knew what they were doing and the Lancashire police didn’t.
“That’s the sort of impression that they instilled on people. I think that created problems in its own right, I don’t think they behaved professionally or very fairly.”
Specialist Group International have been contacted for a response.
Mr Eastwood also criticised the social media sleuths, saying: “People are prepared to do the most ridiculous things in order to get some attention, some likes on the social media platforms.
“I mean why would a group of people go into the woods by the river and start digging a hole, randomly digging a hole isn’t going to help anybody.”
Mr. Eastwood said it was "insensitive" to Nicola’s family, who also asked people to stop speculating.
“Let’s not forget there are victims in this, that’s Nicola’s family," he said.
“She’s got two young children and it was just very disproportionate and very very unfair. These people saw this as a bit of sport and it’s completely unacceptable.”
Police also released a statement saying that Nicola was "high-risk" with "specific vulnerabilities" which were later revealed as issues with alcohol and menopause.
On this, Mr Eastwood said there was an “operational reason for that information being released.”
Nicola Bulley disappeared on Friday 27 January just after 9am in St. Michael's on Wyre.
A body, which has not yet been formally identified, was found on Sunday morning, 19 February, around a mile from where the 45-year-old was last seen.
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