Police seal off roads less than a mile from where Nicola Bulley went missing after tip-off from walkers: Helicopter and drone are spotted circling overhead 23 days after mother of one vanished by river
- Nicola Bulley was last seen walking her dog by the River Wyre on January 27
- Two walkers are said to have talked to police after making a discovery
A huge police search is underway and roads have been closed in the case of missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley following a tip-off from walkers – less than a mile from where she vanished.
Officers in two police cars raced to the scene where the man and a woman pointed to the spot in the River Wyre.
One officer is said to have walked down to the bank to take a closer look before reinforcements were called.
By 1pm on Sunday police drones and a helicopter hovered over the outcrop of trees and undergrowth.
Cops were received a call at around 11.50am and Lancashire Police sealed off Rawcliffe Road in St Michael’s on Wyre.
The internal probe comes exactly three weeks after 45-year-old mortgage adviser Nicola Bulley (pictured) vanished during a dog walk in St Michael’s on Wyre
Police officers are continuing patrols in St Michael’s on Wyre in Lancashire this weekend, looking for clues and reassuring members of the public
Lancashire Police shut the entire stretch of Rawcliffe Road within minutes and refused to give any reason to journalists at the scene.
A police car is now standing watch refusing to let locals within half a mile of the area as a helicopter and drone circles overhead.
The force has refused to say why they have been called to the area. It is the most dramatic search since Ms Bulley went missing over three weeks ago.
The 45-year-old mother-of-two was last seen on January 27 while walking her dog by the river in St Michael’s-on-Wyre after dropping her daughters – aged six and nine – at school.
Her partner Paul Ansell, 44, has maintained hope she is still alive despite officers saying their main working hypothesis remains that Ms Bulley is in the river.
A photographer said: ‘It all happened so fast. Police have sealed all the roads off,’ the Mirror reports.
They added: ‘A massive search is underway. There are police drones and police cars everywhere’.
A large police response is understood to have rushed to the scene, just outside of the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, including a police helicopter.
Ms Bulley vanished after dropping off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school on January 27 in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
She was last seen at 9.10am taking her usual route with her springer spaniel Willow, alongside the River Wyre, shortly after dropping her girls, aged nine and six, off at school.
Her phone, still connected to a work call, was found just over 20 minutes later on a bench overlooking the riverbank, with her dog running loose.
The Sun reports that police divers were seen at the scene on Sunday afternoon.
On February 3, Lancashire Police told the public of its main hypothesis that Ms Bulley had fallen into the River Wyre in a ’10-minute window’ between 9.10am and 9.20am on the day she disappeared.
But multiple experts and Ms Bulley’s own family said they did not believe this to be true.
This week they held a second press conference in which they referenced individual ‘vulnerabilities’ that meant she had immediately been classed as a ‘high-risk’ missing persons case.
But hours later they issued a shock statement detailing Ms Bulley’s struggles with alcohol, brought on by significant symptoms of being peri-menopausal and having stopped taking her HRT medication.
Ms Bulley’s family said in a statement on Friday that they feared her decision to stop taking her hormone replacement therapy (HRT) drugs may have played a factor in her disappearance.
‘Due to the perimenopause Nikki suffered with significant side effects such as brain fog, restless sleep and was taking HRT to help but this was giving her intense headaches which caused Nikki to stop taking the HRT thinking that may have helped her but only ended up causing this crisis,’ the statement said.
They added: ‘Nikki is such a wonderful daughter, sister, partner and mother and is missed dearly – we all need you back in our lives.
‘Nikki, we hope you are reading this and know that we love you so much and your girls want a cuddle. We all need you home.’
Today’s news came after it was revealed overnight one of the UK’s top detectives was personally advising Lancashire Police on the case.
Nicola Bulley, 45, from Inskip, Lancashire, was last seen on the morning of Friday January 27, when she was spotted walking her dog on a footpath by the River Wyre off Garstang Road in St Michael’s on Wrye
A helicopter (pictured) and police drone have been spotted conducting the search
Police officers have been combing the area for more than three weeks for the missing mother
The unnamed detective from the NCA, often referred to as Britain’s FBI, has worked on some of the UK’s most high-profile cases including killer and morgue monster David Fuller and the murder of PCSO Julia James, the organisation told MailOnline.
The police have so far failed to find Ms Bulley, 45, after she vanished without a trace while walking her springer spaniel, named Willow, more than three weeks ago.
Lancashire Police have also received the aid of a forensic psychologist and dog behavioural expert.
It comes amid fierce criticism of police for releasing personal health details about Ms Bulley this week, including from Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt and PM Rishi Sunak.
Criticism of the force has been mounting since the 45-year-old’s disappearance on January 27.
It has now been more than three weeks since Ms Bulley vanished near to her home in Inskip.
Lancashire Police have launched a probe into their investigation, which appears to have stalled, but have raised questions by not taking up offers from other forces such as the Metropolitan Police to conduct the review instead.
This week police publicly divulged information about Nicola Bulley’s battles with alcohol brought on by the menopause – a decision critics blasted as ‘sexist’.
Former police officers have also questioned why basic actions such as closing off the area where Ms Bulley’s phone and dog were discovered for forensic examination were not completed.
The force has confirmed a date has been set for the internal review, which will be conducted by their Head of Crime, Detective Chief Superintendent Pauline Stables – but that date has not been made public.
On Friday Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley offered to conduct a review on behalf of the force, but Lancashire Police were criticised after deciding to do it themselves.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has also received a referral from the force regarding the contact officers had with Ms Bulley on January 10 – before she went missing.
Meanwhile PM Rishi Sunak, speaking about the release of personal details after Lancashire Police announced it will conduct an internal review, said he is ‘pleased police are looking at how that happened in the investigation’.
Lancaster Police have been contacted for comment.
This is a breaking news story and is being updated.
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