Police reveal there are 500 lines of inquiry in search for missing Nicola Bulley
Police have urged members of the public not to share conspiracy theories about the disappearance of Nicola Bulley online as they revealed they were looking into 500 lines of inquiry.
The search for the missing mother-of-two entered its twelfth day on Tuesday and police continue to believe she may have fallen into the River Wyre while walking her dog on 27 January.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley said: “At the moment there are around five hundred active pieces of information and lines of enquiry that we are working on to try and find answers for Nicola’s family.”
However, they also said the scale of efforts was “normal missing persons enquiry and does not indicate there is anything suspicious to this story”.
But she urged people not to speculate on what happened as theories circulating online were hurtful to the family.
She said: “This is particularly hurtful to her family, to her children, to her partner Paul, her parents, her sister and her friends. It is not helpful to them it’s distressing and distracting for the police enquiry.”
“Nor is it helpful if people, particularly if they come from outside of the area, take it upon themselves to take the law into their own hands by trying to, for example, break into empty property. They may mean well, they may want to help, but they can help in thinking back if they were in the area to what information they may have of relevance to the police.”
Rampant speculation over Ms Bulley’s case has been “hampering this investigation and causing inordinate distress to Nicola’s family”, the local MP Paul Maynard earlier warned.
A family friend of Ms Bulley’s said “nothing is making sense” about the case which has left experts “baffled”.
Heather Gibbons spoke on the banks of the River Wyre while, below her, Peter Faulding and his team from Specialist Group International, used sonar technology to scan the river bed.
Ms Gibbons said speculation, rife on social media, about the disappearance, was “hard” for the family to take and a stream of visitors, members of the public arriving from far and wide, some bringing children and taking selfies, had made the area feel like a “tourist spot”.
She said: “I think it’s incredibly hard, but up to a certain level, we understand it’s human nature, it’s natural for everyone to have speculation because the truth is in this, nothing is making sense.
“The turnout for the search has been amazing, it has been incredible.”
While they remain open to other possibilities, police believe that Ms Bulley may have fallen into the River Wyre.
However, Ms Bulley’s friends and family have questioned how the police could be sure of this.
Speaking to the press conference, the police emphasised that every piece of evidence indicating otherwise had so far been “examined and discounted” but that they were approaching any new information with an “open mind”.
They also highlighted the difficulty of searching the river. “The river is a complex area to search, it is not a still water it is a fast-flowing moving water that is tidal in parts.”
“We have already discounted particular areas of the river but as they are tidal we have researched them to ensure nothing has been washed back into those search areas.”
Search teams are using sonar, pole cameras, drones, underwater drones, and specialist dogs. A dive team from Specialist Group International are working for free alongside the police using powerful sonar to scan the riverbed.
Six highly experienced police officers are also searching the riverbank and open ground.
The 45-year-old mother of two was last seen on her regular riverside dog walk at St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire on Friday 27 January. She had just dropped her two daughters off at school.
At the time of her disappearance, Ms Bulley was wearing an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat, tight-fitting black jeans, long green walking socks, ankle-length green Next wellies, a necklace and pale blue Fitbit.
Ms Bulley’s partner, Paul Ansell, said the couple’s daughters “miss their mummy desperately” and “need her back”, in a statement released via police.
“This has been such a tough time for the girls especially but also for me and all of Nicola’s family and friends, as well as the wider community and I want to thank them for their love and support,” he added.
Later, he told Sky News: “We have to find her safe and well. I can’t put those girls to bed again tonight with no answers.”