The independent review into the handling of the widely publicised missing from home investigation into Nicola Bulley is underway, with findings set to be published in Autumn 2023.
The review, announced in February, and commissioned by Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden, is being carried out by the College of Policing, the independent national standard setting body for policing.
The review has three clear areas of focus. It will consider the operational response to the high-risk missing person investigation, the communication and engagement with the press and media, public and family, and decision making surrounding the disclosure of sensitive personal information.
The work to deliver the review has already commenced, with details of how it is being conducted, what it will examine, and its timeline set out in a comprehensive terms of reference.
The review’s findings will provide insight into the effectiveness of Lancashire Constabulary’s response over the course of the period Nicola Bulley was missing. It will also examine whether the decision making of Lancashire Constabulary was reasonable and proportionate.
The review will draw upon nationally recognised guidance and expertise from within, and outside of the College of Policing.
Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden said: “First and foremost my thoughts remain with Nicola’s family and friends who are, understandably, continuing to come to terms with their loss under an ongoing media spotlight.
“Whilst the police investigation has concluded, and the inquest will take place in due course, it is only right that we should examine Lancashire Police’s handling of this tragic case, which has been a cause for public concern, through an externally conducted independent review.
“This review will follow the facts and seek input from relevant operational and subject matter experts in reaching its findings.
“It will also seek to identify good and effective practice, and provide recommendations for wider learning to police forces nationally.
“In my role as Commissioner, as the public’s voice in policing in Lancashire, I need to put in place the appropriate scrutiny to seek the right assurances and to ensure I am effectively holding the Constabulary to account for delivering policing that is efficient and effective for the communities we serve.
“It’s important we understand what worked so that high profile cases can be best investigated and communicated under such spotlight and scrutiny. I am confident that the Constabulary is fully engaging in the review process.”
ACC Iain Raphael, Director of Operational Standards at the College of Policing said: “The College is working at pace to conduct a thorough review of the investigation and decision making of Lancashire Constabulary in relation to this tragic case.
“We recognise the impact this work will have on Nicola Bulley’s family and friends who are going through some of the most difficult times imaginable. Our thoughts remain with them as our work continues.
“The review will follow the facts and seek input from relevant operational and subject matter experts to help capture any learning for policing in Lancashire and the wider service. We will present our findings to the PCC later this year.”
The report and recommendations from the review are set to be made public in Autumn 2023.