An investigation has been launched into whether police treated the family of a 12-year-old Somali refugee who drowned “less favourably” because of their ethnic background.
Shukri Yahya Abdi drowned in the River Irwell in Bury, Greater Manchester, on 27 June.
On Thursday, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) announced it had begun an investigation after a complaint about police actions following her death.
An IOPC spokeswoman said: “In July the force referred a complaint they had received about their actions; it alleged that officers failed to conduct an effective investigation and prematurely concluded that the death of Shukri Abdi was not suspicious.
“We carefully assessed this complaint and made the decision that it required an independent investigation.
“Part of the complaint investigation will look at whether officers treated Shukri Abdi’s family less favourably because of their ethnic background.”
Shukri, who came to the UK from Somalia, was described by relatives as a “sweet, innocent child”.
She was reported missing by her mother just after 7.30pm on 27 June and a short time later police received a separate report that a girl had gone into the River Irwell and had not resurfaced. Underwater search teams later recovered her body from the river.
A separate investigation into her death by Greater Manchester police is continuing, the IOPC said.
The IOPC’s regional director, Amanda Rowe, said: “We have met with Shukri Abdi’s family to offer our condolences and discuss this investigation, and we will provide them with regular updates as our work progresses.
“The death of a child is so very difficult to comprehend, and I know this is felt across the local community and beyond. I am aware that the circumstances of Shukri’s death are a concern to many, not least because there are many unanswered questions about how she came to be in the River Irwell that day. That is a matter for Greater Manchester police and the coroner.”
After her death, police said there were no suspicious circumstances and warned people of the dangers of swimming in rivers, lakes and reservoirs in hot weather.