Somali Schoolgirl’s death mystery ‘will never be solved because of police racism’
The family of a 12-year-old girl who drowned in a river have claimed institutional racism within the police prevented a proper investigation. Schoolgirl Shukri Abdi, who came to the UK from Somalia last year, was found dead in the River Irwell, in Bury, Greater Manchester, on June 27.
Police said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding her death, but her mother Zam Zam Ture claimed she had been badly bullied at Broad Oak Sports College ‘many times’. Officers tried to convince Ms Ture that Shukri had been swimming before she died – but she said it was ‘unlikely’ as her daughter could not swim. She added that it would have been ‘out of character’ for the schoolgirl to go into the water and pointed out that she was wearing full Islamic dress.
Ms Ture also told the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme that when she reported her daughter missing on the day of her death, the police initially failed to act. They then notified her that Shukri had been found dead 10 hours later, with the mother describing their manner as ‘not sympathetic’.
Within hours, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) had published a press release saying there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the case, the family’s lawyer Attiq Malik said. He claims this was due to institutional racism, which caused the officers not to check other possibilities without ‘even realising it’. Mr Malik said: ‘The family’s firm position is they have only been treated in that way because of their race, and had it been a different racial background more sensitivity would have been given, more investigation would have been done.’
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the family’s claims. A spokesperson said: ‘We treat complaints of this nature with the utmost seriousness, and I know GMP share the view that the IOPC has a responsibility to examine the actions of the force after Shukri was reported missing – not least for public confidence.’
The family also say claims Shukri was being bullied at school were not fully examined. Det Insp Andrew Naismith, from GMP, previously told an inquest that there was nothing to suggest any bullying or coercion took place. According to Mr Malik, Broad Oak Sports College then produced a report, without speaking to Ms Ture, that ‘essentially just said that they were not aware of any bullying’.
In a statement, head teacher Paul Greenhalgh said the school was ‘deeply saddened’ by Shukri’s death and would be ‘reviewing all policies and procedures’. He said: ‘In particular, we will focus on the school’s anti-bullying policy and procedures and other policies relating to the welfare of children.’