The search for Nicola Bulley has been handed a huge boost as the “world’s best” sonar equipment that can scan the river “in a day” is set to be deployed near to where she was last sighted.
Express.co.uk can reveal that Lancashire Police earlier “declined” a free offer of help from a leading international underwater search team wanted by Nicola Bulley’s family.
However, in an apparent backtrack by the force, Specialist Group International (SGI) will now join the investigation of the scene where Ms Bulley went missing nine days ago.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, founder Peter Faulding, who pioneered bringing forensic sonar search equipment to the UK, said: “We have the best sonar equipment for the world that’s available, for the highest frequency for this particular search. That river, we can literally scan within a day, a day and a half.
“Our kit is the best you can buy, it’s the highest frequency, there are forces who carry sonar but it’s a lot lower frequency generally.
“I’m not criticising the police, I work for them all the time, and I have great respect for them. I have had a very productive call with Lancashire Police this afternoon, we will build an excellent working relationship.
“What I’m doing is offering our services free of charge to try and eliminate this river so the police can get on with their other enquiries and find out where Nicola is. It’s the pain, the agony that this family are going through, you shouldn’t have to search and search for 10 days.”
SGI already serve as the underwater search team for Essex, Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Thames Valley and Hampshire forces. Earlier today on the SGI Facebook page, Mr Faulding said he had been contacted by Ms Bulley’s family pleading for help after he offered publicly to assist Lancashire Police.
The police search has so far been aided by specialists and divers from HM Coastguard, mountain rescue, and Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service – with sniffer dogs, drones and police helicopters deployed – but with no sign of Ms Bulley.
Writing on Facebook earlier today, Mr Faulding, wrote: “Unfortunately, Lancashire police have responded via the family declining my offer saying they will continue with their own river searches using their current resources let us know if we are required.
“This potentially adds further delay when all hands on deck are required to help Nicola’s grieving family, either to find her or definitively rule the river out.
“Time is of the essence, and I would like to state that my offer to assist in the search is not in an attempt to take over or criticise what the police are doing. It’s purely to bring extra valuable resources to this difficult search for the good of the family.”
Following his post, an update has now been logged.
It states: “We have received notice from the family that the SGI underwater search team WILL be deployed. We are awaiting official instructions from Lancashire Police.”
Mother-of-two Nicola Bulley, 45, has not been seen since the morning of Friday, January 27 when she took her cocker spaniel Willow for a walk along the River Wyre, near St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancs.
Willow was discovered “bone dry” by passers-by and the dog’s lead and harness were found on a bench by the river, along with Ms Bulley’s mobile still logged into a work conference call.
Peter said having seen drone footage showing shallow stretches of the river he did not believe anything like a body would have been swept down to the sea as some have theorised.
It’s approximately 12 miles from St Michael’s on Wyre to the sea at Fleetwood, downstream from where Ms Bulley was last sighted the river becomes tidal.
Express.co.uk have approached Lancashire Police for comment.
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