Police given power to break up groups causing nuisance in Nicola Bulley village

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Police have been given the power to break up groups causing a nuisance in the Lancashire village where Nicola Bulley vanished amid reports of people coming into St Michael’s on Wyre and filming properties for use on social media.

The dispersal order was granted as the focus of the huge search for the missing mother of two shifted towards the sea.

Lancashire Police said the order was issued on Wednesday night after reports that people had come to the village from outside the county to film.

The order will remain in place for 48 hours and gives officers the power to disperse anyone committing anti-social behaviour.

Nicola Bulley
Nicola Bulley (Family handout/PA)

Officers had previously warned members of the public not to “take the law into their own hands” by breaking into empty or derelict riverside properties to try to find Ms Bulley.

Lancashire Police also said they are looking into a number of “grossly offensive” comments being made on social media and may take legal action “where appropriate”.

Ms Bulley’s disappearance has prompted lurid comment on social media and a steady stream of individuals have appeared in the village, often filming police activity around the area where she disappeared.

Meanwhile police search teams were on Thursday spotted on the River Wyre, miles from where Ms Bulley first went missing 14 days ago.

A dinghy with two officers on board could be seen on the water, as the focus of the massive search shifted from where she vanished to farther downstream, towards where the River Wyre empties into the Irish Sea at Morecambe Bay.

An orange rescue boat was also spotted appearing to do sweeps of the river off Knott End-on-Sea, at the mouth of the bay, around 10 miles downstream from where the 45-year-old vanished on January 27.

The mortgage adviser had dropped off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school, then took Willow, her springer spaniel, for a walk alongside the River Wyre.

Nicola Bulley missing
The bench where Nicola Bulley’s phone was found, on the banks of the River Wyre in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire (Peter Byrne/PA)

Lancashire Police have dismissed any suggestion Ms Bulley is a victim of crime and say the scale of the missing person inquiry is “unprecedented”, involving 40 detectives and following 500 lines of inquiry.

Multiple searches of the “hot-spot” area near the bench, the suspected “entry point” of where Ms Bulley went into the water, have been conducted by police divers and underwater search experts.

Ms Bulley’s family called in help from Peter Faulding, of Specialist Group International, but after a three-day search earlier this week, no trace of Ms Bulley was found.

Mr Faulding said his searches confirmed Ms Bulley was not in the section of river searched by his team and police divers, but described himself as “baffled” after ending his fruitless search.

Lancashire Police say that though their presence around where Ms Bulley disappeared would be less visible on Thursday this did not mean a scaling back of the search but a shift in focus to further downstream in the area of the river where it becomes tidal and out towards the sea.

Ms Bulley’s partner Paul Ansell has described the “perpetual hell” the family is suffering as they await news, with her daughters asking: “Where’s Mummy?”

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