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Investigations editor tells police press offices to ‘wake up’ over Nicola Bulley

Mark Williams-ThomasA senior editor at a regional publisher has warned police press offices across the country to “wake up” amid ongoing criticism over the handling of the Nicola Bulley investigation.

Newsquest investigations editor Mark Williams-Thomas, pictured, has accused the Lancashire Police press office of “naivety” over the way information about the 45-year-old’s disappearance has ended up in the public domain.

Mark, who has spent this week at the scene of Ms Bulley’s disappearance near the village of Saint Michael’s on Wyre, has called for a change in thinking from police communications teams in the era of the “armchair detective”.

It came after Lancashire Police revealed on Wednesday the mother-of-two, who went missing on 27 January, was classed as a “high-risk” missing person who had ongoing struggles with alcohol and the menopause.

Mark, himself a former detective who exposed the crimes of Jimmy Savile, made the remarks during a live video for Newsquust’s YouTube channel True Crime Newsquest.

He said: “They’d talked to [Ms Bulley’s family] about what was going on and the fact that at some stage, maybe, this information would get out.

“I think they were confident that actually it wouldn’t. I don’t know why.

“It shows a naivety from the press office. I spoke to the press office and there was some understanding and some acknowledgement that they got things wrong and they were trying to put things right three weeks down the road with their media strategy.”

He added: “I think the problem is that this has played itself out in the media, it’s played itself out in public, because it’s become fascinating.

“The public want to know answers and understandably so in this world of the crime genre, in which everyone’s an armchair detective at home.

“Everybody wants to know what’s going on. I can totally understand that and the police really have to wake up.

“It’ll be a big learning curve for [Lancashire Police], and other police forces, to understand there are two aspects to a missing person investigation nowadays – and that is the way that it’s conducted behind the scenes, and the way that it’s conducted in front of the scenes.”

The force previously warned amateur sleuths they risk arrest for anti-social behaviour and issued multiple dispersal orders in the Saint Michael’s on Wyre area, while a number of “grossly offensive” online comments about the case have been investigated.

HTFP has approached Lancashire Police for a response to Mark’s comments.