The family of drowned Bury schoolgirl Shukri Abdi is suing Greater Manchester Police, claiming institutional racism.
Solicitors have lodged a civil action for breach of the Human Rights Act against the police on behalf of Shukri’s mother, Zamzam Ture.
The legal action claims that there were a number of failures in GMP’s investigation into Shukri’s drowning, including a failure to speak to all four children who were at the river with Shukri on the day of the incident.
Lawyers argue that police should have investigated more thoroughly before deciding the drowning was an accident because the incident involved a child who could not swim, who had never been to a river before, had for the first time in her life not come home from school, and was with children she had never before been with after school.
They add that institutional racism played a part in the way the case was investigated because Shukri came from a family of black, Muslim refugees.
In December 2020 a coroner concluded that Shukri’s death by drowning was an accident and that there was no evidence that a child who was with her at the time had any intention to kill her.
And an Independent Office for Police Conduct investigation into GMP said it did not find evidence to indicate Shukri’s family were treated less favourably because of their ethnic background.
The force is currently under fire after it was placed in special measures after inspectors found that the force had failed to record 80,000 crimes in 12 months and was providing a “poor service” to many victims of crime.
Attiq Malik, Shukri’s family lawyer, said: “The same criticisms that Shukri’s family raised about the GMP’s treatment of them and the investigation into her death resonate with the findings of the inspectorate of GMP’s conduct across the board.”
Maz Saleem, of the Justice4Shukri campaign, added: “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 is 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 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 30 June 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 said: “The Independent Office for Police Conduct 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.”