People allegedly took pictures of a body pulled from the river near where Nicola Bulley went missing.
Bob Eastwood, former chief superintendent with Lancashire Police, said "this is something else" when describing the scenes. Mr Eastwood said he hopes the consciences of the "so-called specialists" are in "overdrive".
Speaking about the case of missing Nicola Bulley on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Eastwood said: "I think it's a watershed moment in how policing going forward deals not only with the onslaught of communications and the interest of media organisations, but it's the ones that do not represent media organisations, that purport to be.
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"And the other of course is the use of so-called specialists who I think in this case imposed themselves on the investigation and Nicola's family, and I'm hoping their consciences are currently in overdrive."
He added that the way the specialists behaved in the investigation "actually fed into a lot of people's obsession". He also told BBC Radio 4: "Only yesterday there were people purporting to be the media that quite clearly weren't and they were climbing over the fence to take pictures of the body that the police were recovering. This is something else."
The mum-of-two had been walking her dog in St Michael's on Wyre after dropping her daughters, aged six and nine, at school on January 27. Yesterday on Sunday, February 20, it is understood a man and a woman walking their dog discovered the body and called police.
The body has not yet been formally identified but Lancashire police confirmed that Nicola's family had been informed and said: "our thoughts are with them at this most difficult of times."
Speaking about police releasing personal information about Nicola after her disappearance , Mr Eastwood added: "When I first heard the police had released that, I cringed, but I didn't say anything, I didn't put anything out on my own social media because I didn't know the full facts and didn't know why they had taken those steps.
"Some hours later the family gave a press release indicating they were aware the information was to be given out and they'd given the information out because somebody had sold a story to the press and that information was going to be given out as an exclusive.
"Knowing policing as I do, I suspect that they made that decision in order to prevent somebody releasing it in that way. It was unpleasant information to hear but I think in all the circumstances, from what I know and believe, I think the police were right to do so."
He added that the move "took away" a story that was going to create "even more dramas" that police have had to deal with "on a colossal scale" in the case.
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