‘Shameful’: Police accused of ‘victim blaming’ as MPs condemn decision to reveal Nicola Bulley’s struggles

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Police have been accused of “victim blaming” as MPs and other high-profile figures question the decision to make Nicola Bulley’s personal struggles public.

Lancashire Constabulary took the unusual step of giving details about the missing mother’s private life “to avoid any further speculation or misinterpretation” about the investigation into her disappearance.

Tory MP Alicia Kearns is among those denouncing the force’s decision to share Ms Bulley’s struggles, when it is not clear how doing so will help the ongoing search.

Missing Nicola Bulley, 45, was last seen on the morning of Friday 27 January

“I am deeply uncomfortable with the police releasing Nicola Bulley’s so-called ‘vulnerabilities’ on menopause & alcohol,” the chair of the foreign affairs select committee wrote on Twitter.

“I struggle to ascertain how this will assist police in their search & investigations. I do see how it would assist those wishing to victim-blame or diminish.”

Labour’s Stella Creasy also shared her concerns and called on the force to explain why they felt it was necessary.

Responding to the revelations, the MP for Walthamstow said: “The decision to disclose this level of detail on a missing person’s private life, with no evidence that this is assisting in finding her, is deeply troubling.

“The police need to be much clearer as to why any of this helps find Nicola Bulley or support this investigation.”

Barrister and director of campaign group Right2Equality Dr Chartlotte Proudman similarly hit out at the “serious invasion” into Ms Bulley’s private life, which she said, “will only result in further victim blaming.”

Actress Nicola Thorpe branded the update as “a shameful PR spin at the expense of a victim’s reputation and dignity.”

“I don’t see how any of this information is necessary when they have no concrete evidence of what happened to Nikki,” she said in a Twitter post.

Relating her stance to her own “traumatic experience” with Lancashire Constabulary, BBC Radio DJ Liz Kershaw described the force as “absolutely useless.”

“But I could never have anticipated how disgusted I would be that they now try to excuse their own failings by labelling #NicolaBulley as a menopausal alcoholic,” she added.

Alongside a photograph of detective superintendent Rebecca Smith, leading the investigation, Ms Kershaw wrote: “What a hard faced ….”, without finishing her sentence.

In a statement, the force also revealed it had been called out to the family’s home in early January due to a “concern for welfare” report.

The Independent has contacted Lancashire Constabulary for comment.

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson and Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith at the press conference

The police statement, released on the force website, came just hours after a defensive press conference in which detectives criticised “commentary and speculation” they say had damaged the investigation.

“Nicola was reported missing at 11am on Friday, January 27th and, due to vulnerabilities reported to us at the time, was immediately graded as a high-risk missing person,” the statement said.

“We have described how Nicola had some vulnerabilities at the time she went missing and we just wanted to expand on that a little.

“Sadly, it is clear from speaking to Paul and the family that Nicola had in the past suffered with some significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause and that these struggles had resurfaced over recent months. This caused some real challenges for Paul and the family.

“As a result of those issues, a response car staffed by both police and health professionals attended a report of concern for welfare at Nicola’s home address on January 10th. No one has been arrested in relation to this incident, but it is being investigated.

“It is an unusual step for us to take to go into this level of detail about someone’s private life, but we felt it was important to clarify what we meant when we talked about vulnerabilities to avoid any further speculation or misinterpretation.”

Source: independent.co.uk