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Lancashire Police will be questioned by an information watchdog over the decision to share information about Nicola Bulley's personal life with the public.
Ms Bulley went missing on the morning of January 27 while walking her dog in St Michaels on Wyre, Lancashire.
This week the force investigating her disappearance came under fire after publicly announcing she had been struggling with menopause-related problems and alcohol issues prior to her disappearance, and today it was announced the Information Commissioner would question officers.
READ MORE: Nicola Bulley pal angry police 'painted her in unfair light' with alcohol struggles
Information Commissioner John Edwards said: “Data protection law exists to ensure people’s personal information is used properly and fairly. This includes ensuring personal details are not disclosed inappropriately.
“Police can disclose information to protect the public and investigate crime, but they would need to be able to demonstrate such disclosure was necessary.
“We recognise that at this stage of an intensive, live investigation, the force must focus all their energies on the inquiry. But given the high-profile nature of this case, we will be asking Lancashire Police to set out how they reached the decision to disclose this information in due course.”
Lancashire Police, who have been criticised on a number of occasions for their handling of the case, held a press conference on Wednesday night where they revealed the mum-of-two had immediately been classed as a "high-risk" missing person due to "a number of specific vulnerabilities".
'Nicola Bulley case will be used to train police in what not to do,' rages ex-detective
Detective Superintendent Rebecca Smith and Assistant Chief Constable Peter Lawson, who co-led the press conference, didn't elaborate on the statement.
But hours later the force revealed on Facebook that Ms Bulley had "in the past suffered with some significant issues with alcohol which were brought on by her ongoing struggles with menopause".
In a statement made yesterday, Ms Bulley's family said they knew these details would be made public, even though "Nikki would have not wanted this".
The decision to release the private 20 days after the 45-year-old went missing has come under fire not only from officials but by politicians and members of the public.
Conservative MP Alicia Kearns wrote: "I am deeply uncomfortable with the police releasing Nicola Bulley's so-called 'vulnerabilities' on menopause and alcohol.
"I struggle to ascertain how this will assist Police in their search and investigations.
"I do see how it would assist those wishing to victim-blame or diminish."
An unnamed friend of Ms Bulley also slammed officers' handling of the sensitive topic.
Speaking to The Mirror, they said: "This has painted her in an unfair light. I think the police have done this to shift the focus onto this rather than on them and their lack of progress.
"I think they want people to buy into their theory that she went into the river. I do fear that the focus will be on this now rather than trying to find Nikki.
"We really need to focus on finding out what has happened and where she has gone. Focus needs to be given to the areas not covered by CCTV and following up on those dash cams."
The search for Ms Bulley continues.
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