Police have confirmed that Nicola Bulley's body was found on Sunday (February 19) after a three week search with the Lancashire constabulary coming in for significant criticism for the way it dealt with the heartbreaking case.
Nicola's body was found around one mile from the centre of St Michael's where she was last seen after a case that gripped the country.
Despite the efforts of the Specialist Group International, a specialist search group headed by Peter Faulding, they were unable to locate Nicola's body, despite using state-of-the-art tech and diving teams to search far and wide.
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In the end, Nicola's body was discovered by an ashen faced dog walker.
Now Nicola's tragic death has been confirmed, police are still being probed about the investigation by watchdogs as many still have questions about the case.
Why did the specialist team not find Nicola?
Lancashire Constabulary spent more than three weeks searching in the river and river beds of the River Wyre.
Mr Faulding said his team were tasked with searching the "river upstream of weir in the non tidal part of the river, past the bench where Nicola’s phone was found and a mile upstream past this point".
The River Wyre is approximately 28 miles long beginning in the Forest of Bowland near the village of Abbeystead and running south through Dolphinholme.
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The Lancaster Canal crosses the Wyre as it flows through Garstang and continues to St Michael's on Wyre, which was where Nicola was last seen.
But despite a huge team working day and night, they were unable to find Nicola's body.
Why did police release personal information about Nicola's health?
Many were furious that the police chose the release details about Nicola's health.
There have been concerns that people may feel less able to go to police for fear that details about women's health will be released into the public domain.
During a press conference a week before Nicola was found, police said for the mum-of-two was categorised as "high risk" due to "a number of specific vulnerabilities" when she was first reported missing.
The force stated that Nicola "in the past suffered with some significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with menopause".
The home secretary, Suella Braverman, said she was not “wholly satisfied” with responses given by the chief constable when she demanded an explanation about why these details were publicised.
Could the police have dealt better with so-called morbid tourism?
Nicola's disappearance dominated the headlines as soon as it was announced, leading to a massive increase in the number of people present in and around the area where she was last seen.
In the second week of the search, police had to intervene by asking people to not to distress locals by breaking into property and even issued a dispersal order to move people away from the area.
They have since also appealed to the public to refrain from sharing conspiracy theories about disappearance cases.
A security company was sent to the village in response to large numbers of "TikTokers and Youtubers" looking to create morbid content.
Bob Eastwood, former chief superintendent with Lancashire Police, said the case would be a “watershed moment” in how police deal the public in an age where live streaming and content making is king.
He said: "I think it’s a watershed moment in how policing going forward deals not only with the onslaught of communications and the interest of media organisations, but it’s the ones that do not represent media organisations, that purport to be, and the other of course is the use of so-called specialists who I think in this case imposed themselves on the investigation and Nicola’s family, and I’m hoping their consciences are currently in overdrive.”
Most agree that the police's strategy in this challenging event was far from perfect, and lessons need to be learnt going forward.
Lancashire Constabulary have been approached for comment.
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