THE family of a young girl, who drowned in the River Irwell in Bury while out playing with friends, have confirmed they are suing Greater Manchester Police, claiming institutional racism.

12-year-old Shukri Abdi died in June 2019 after the girl she was swimming with, referred to as Child One, lost contact with her.

A coroner at Rochdale Coroner’s Court ruled that the other child knew that she could not swim and took her into deep water, and that a duty of care existed which was breached.

But Joanne Kearsley, senior coroner for Manchester North, concluded that there was no evidence that Child One had any intention to kill Shukri.

Reaching a conclusion of accidental death, Ms Kearsley also rejected claims that anyone had pushed Shukri into the water. However, she said that Child One should have recognised the risk of death to Shukri once they were in deep water and Shukri was relying on her to stay afloat.

Solicitors have now lodged a civil action for breach of the Human Rights Act against Greater Manchester Police (GMP) on behalf of Shukri’s mother, Zamzam Arab Ture.

The legal action claims that GMP failed to speak to all four children who were at the river with Shukri on the day of the incident and will argue that officers should have investigated more thoroughly before deciding the drowning was an accident.

Ms Kearsley said Child One was “naïve” and “foolish” but had underestimated the danger so a verdict of accidental death was the correct judgement.

Lawyers for the family say that institutional racism played a part in the way the case was investigated because Shukri came from a family of black, Muslim refugees.

An Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into GMP has already found no evidence to indicate Shukri’s family were treated less favourably because of their ethnic background concluding that GMP "quickly ascertained they had a shared language barrier with Shukri’s family, and promptly brought in translation services" in addition to using a family liaison officer "representative of the culture of Shukri’s family".

Following the findings, IOPC regional director Amanda Rowe, said: "We found insufficient evidence to suggest that GMP did not conduct a thorough investigation and I am satisfied that it was carried out in line with national and local policies and procedures.

“However, while we did not uphold the complaints, I have asked that the SIO reflect upon his actions during the meeting with Shukri’s family, and consider how raising his voice could be perceived by those for whom English is a second or other language and/or from BAME backgrounds."

The Force has recently been criticised and placed in special measures after Government inspectors found it had failed to record 80,000 crimes in 12 months.

Maz Saleem, of the Justice4Shukri campaign, said: “This is an important development in the fight for justice for Shukri Abdi, as from the beginning, the family have maintained the firm position that they had been unfairly treated by the Greater Manchester Police from the outset due to their status as a refugee family, and they have never swayed from that position.

"The fact that only one week after the Senior Coroner delivered her decision into the death of Shukri, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) released a report that bore testament to the family's position, where criticism of GMP in failing to report 80,000 crimes in the year to June 30 was publicly laid bare.

"The handling, or rather mis-handling to be accurate, of the investigation into the death of Shukri falls squarely within the parameters of this report, and as such, the family have every right and legitimate grounds to pursue legal action against GMP.”

A GMP spokesperson added: “The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) carried out an independent investigation and reviewed GMP’s response following the death of Shukri Abdi.

“The IOPC concluded their investigation and no learning was identified for GMP. Following the inquest, a civil claim has been started and it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this time.

“Our sincere thoughts remain with Shukri’s loved ones and those affected by her death.”