Review into Nicola Bulley police investigation to focus on TikTok conspiracy theorists

Nicola Bulley's body was found in the River Wyre, 23 days after going missing. Credit: Family photo

A police boss says he wants to understand how TikTok conspiracy theorists took hold of an investigation into the disappearance of the mother-of-two Nicola Bulley.

The 45-year-old's body was found in the River Wyre, on St. Michael’s on Wyre, on 19 February, three weeks after she was reported missing.

Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden has ordered an independent review of the police investigation.

Ms Bulley's case attracted media attention all over the world, which led to dozens of "amateur detectives" on social media - particularly TikTok - descending on the village.

The mother-of-two was described as "vulnerable" by police during the investigation. Credit: PA Images

Asked by the Local Democracy Reporting Service why he had ordered the review, Mr Snowden said that it was important to “ask the questions” the public want answering.

He wants to understand how social media set the agenda during the investigation - rather than the police themselves.

Mr Snowdon said: "I’m also concerned in a modern policing investigation, which was sadly correct in its hypothesis all along, became such a story – particularly in the national papers – about ‘bungling, incompetent cops’. Yet they were right all along."

He continued to say: "TikTok saw online amateur detectives pushing conspiracy theories out, which resulted in vile abuse towards Nicola’s family and friends.

"How did that get so out of hand?"

Lancashire Police was criticised for making Ms Bulley's struggles with alcohol and the menopause public during the missing person's investigation.

However, the Information Commissioner's Office later said the force will not face action over its disclosures after a "fast-paced" investigation.

The Conservative politician said he had his own “personal views” but said he did not want to “pre-empt” the outcome of the review he had requested.

Nicola Bulley. Credit: Family photo

The College of Policing Review is expected to report in the autumn and will focus on:

  • The operational response to the high-risk missing person investigation mounted to find Nicola Bulley

  • Communication and engagement with the press, public and family

  • Decision-making surrounding the disclosure of sensitive personal information

Earlier this month, the Information Commissioner’s Office decided not to take any enforcement action against Lancashire Police over its disclosure of Nicola Bulley’s personal information.

Meanwhile, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) cleared the force of any wrongdoing over contact it had had with her prior to her disappearance.

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