Private diving expert Peter Faulding, who is helping in the search for Nicola Bulley, has criticized the police for not informing him that she was ‘high-risk’ and had been struggling with alcohol issues. He claims that this information would have changed his team’s search strategy and that Ms Bulley is now more likely to have been swept out to sea or walked off somewhere.
Mr Faulding went on to agree with other critics who have argued that it is ‘not fair’ that Lancashire Police released personal information about Ms Bulley to the public. The decision to do so has been named ‘deeply troubling’ by MPs and campaigners, as it could fuel victim-blaming.
The 45-year-old mother of two had faced ‘significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with the menopause’ prior to her disappearance. Police and health professionals had attended a report of concern for welfare at her home address weeks before she vanished. No one was arrested.
Mr Faulding said that he would normally be given such information to make his job easier and deploy the appropriate resources for the search. After searching the stretch of river police believe Ms Bulley is in, he has said there is ‘no sign’ of her there, and he has suggested she may have just ‘walked off somewhere’. This is a possibility as it is possible for someone to walk away from their life before reappearing later.
Mr Faulding has questioned if the police know something else they are not telling the public, asking: ‘Do they [police] know something else again that they are not telling us?’. Lancashire Police have noted that it is an unusual step for them to go into such detail about someone’s private life, but they felt it was important to clarify what they meant by mentioning vulnerabilities. They reiterated that there is no evidence to indicate a criminal aspect or third-party involvement.