Local residents from Nicola Bulley’s village have reacted with fury over the Lancashire police’s decision to reveal the 45-year-old had been struggling with the menopause and alcohol prior to her disappearance in January. Ms Bulley disappeared on January 27 while out walking her springer spaniel dog Willow along the River Wyre, having first dropped off her two daughters at school in St Michael’s on Wyre. Police initially said they believed the mother-of-two had gone into the river and claimed there was nothing suspicious about her disappearance.
However, an independent underwater forensics team, brought in 10 days after her disappearance, concluded that she was not in the river.
The case has sparked a huge amount of speculation about Ms Bulley’s private life, which her friends have described as being “incredibly hurtful”.
It has also spawned an avalanche of conspiracy theories and attracted a host of amateur detectives to come to the village to carry out their own impromptu investigations.
On Wednesday, officers from Lancashire Police told a press conference that they had categorized Ms Bulley as high-risk when she was reported missing due to “specific vulnerabilities”.
They later revealed that the 45-year-old was struggling with the menopause and alcohol, saying they wanted “to avoid any further speculation”.
The revelations about her private and personal struggles have provoked fury among local residents in St Michael’s, who accused the police of “victim shaming” games.
Carla, 37 and a mother of two herself, told the Daily Telegraph’s Judith Woods: “I am absolutely appalled at the way the police have victim-shamed her.
“The whole of the internet is combing through her personal life.
“If she is found alive, she will have this awful humiliation to deal with.
“And if not, those two girls will grow up without closure, just more questions.”
That anger was echoed by Sheila, a retired civil servant from a neighboring village.
She said: “What has the menopause got to do with anything?
READ MORE: Nicola Bulley case being treated like ‘a reality gameshow’
A former police chief, however, believes criticism of the police’s investigation has been “unfair”, with Sir Peter Fahy, former chief at Greater Manchester Police, describing the investigators as “very diligent”.
He told BBC Radio 4 Today: “It’s disappointing that certain politicians have not perhaps tried to give this a more balanced view and say, yes there is a particular issue about providing personal information and that often happens in major investigations.”
Sir Peter said the release of information in investigations “gets to the stage where it’s not in the public interest”.
He continued: “Part of the difficulty for Lancashire Police is this is just one of the cases where we just don’t know what’s happened.
“They have closed off a lot of possibilities through their work on mobile phones and the CCTV.
“A measure of whether a missing person’s investigation has been carried out professionally is not really whether that person has been found because tragically there are many, many cases where the person is not located.”