Nicola Bulley investigation: Senior Lancashire Police officer dies at home aged 50
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The force announced that ACC Peter Lawson passed away at his home on Sunday morning. His death is believed to have been medical-related.
He has been described as an “outstanding” senior officer who “didn't see rank” - and so regularly sought the opinions of more junior colleagues. One detective simply said of him: “What a leader he was.”
Earlier this year, ACC Lawson became one of the public faces of the investigation into the disappearance of Nicola Bulley. He fronted press conferences during the latter stages of the three-week hunt for the missing mum, including on the day police confirmed that a body found in the River Wyre on February 19 was that of Ms Bulley, who had vanished from St. Michael’s on Wyre the previous month.
As one of three assistant chief constables with the Lancashire force, ACC Lawson - who began his career in Preston - was responsible for “people and specialist uniform operations”.
He was also the executive chair of the Lancashire Resilience Forum, the umbrella body that co-ordinates the response of key agencies to emergency incidents in the county.
Lancashire Constabulary Chief Constable Chris Rowley said in a statement that ACC Lawson’s death was “incredibly sad and tragic news”.
He added: “My thoughts and prayers are with all of Pete’s family and friends at this difficult time.
“Pete’s death will come as a shock to the entire force and the wider police family across the country. He was an outstanding officer who served the communities of Lancashire with pride. He was also highly respected and admired by all who knew him and worked with him.
“Our deepest condolences go out to his family and we will support them as much as we can. We want to respect their privacy and would ask that the public and media do so, too.
“We will offer support to all our staff and those who worked with Pete, as we mourn his loss,” Chief Con Rowley said.
ACC Lawson was the national policing lead for health, safety and welfare and had served in many areas of the county in a wide variety of uniformed roles.
He was an accredited strategic firearms, public order and multi-agency commander and had been involved in the policing of various high-profile events and incidents during his career - ranging from protests and large civic and protection events to sporting occasions.
It was in that latter capacity that he came into contact with PC Paul Elliott, Preston North End’s football officer.
On the X - formerly Twitter - account, PNE Police, PC Elliott wrote: “As a PC, it’s rare to come into direct contact with ACPO [Association of Chief Police Officer] ranks, however, as a football officer the regularity of ‘having the ear’ of ACCs…increases considerably. Mr Lawson was regularly a Commander for #pnefc [Preston North End FC] games & was a tremendous leader and support to me over the years.
“Mr Lawson didn’t see rank [and] he would regularly call to ask ‘What do you think?’, a quality anyone who works/worked in policing will know means an awful lot and is all too rare these days.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Mr Lawson’s family and friends. Thank you for your service,” PC Elliott added.
Commenting on that post, Temporary Detective Inspector Amanda Henson said: “This has reminded me of when I was a football spotter and we travelled to Norwich from Blackburn. Mr Lawson phoned us on the way down ‘just checking in’. What a leader he was.”
Also writing on X, Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Andrew Snowden said he was “devastated” to learn of ACC Lawson’s passing.
“[He] represented the very best of policing," said Mr Snowden. "He embodied the values of service, duty and integrity. It has been an honour to have worked with him. I will miss Pete and Lancashire has lost a dedicated and capable public servant. He had such an incredible intellect and insight, a calm and reassuring presence - and that sharp wit and warming smile. My thoughts are with his wife, family, friends and the wider police family."
Meanwhile, the Lancashire Resilience Forum said in a statement that it was "deeply saddened" by the news. ACC Lawson’s death has been referred to the coroner.