AN appeal to help the family of a 12-year-old girl who drowned in the River Irwell establish the circumstance leading up to her tragic death was made today -  as a school investigation into allegations of bullying was criticised. 

Friends and relatives of Shukri Yahya Abid's family held a meeting today to drawn attention to their campaign and voice their frustration at the investigation into her death.

Bury Times:

Shukri was reported missing by her mother just after 7.30pm on 27 June. A short time later, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) received a separate report that a girl had gone into the River Irwell and had not resurfaced. Underwater search teams later recovered Shukri’s body from the river in Bury.

Shukri went to Broad Oak sports college after arriving in the the UK from Somalia last year with her mother and siblings after fleeing conflict.

Bury Times:

The family's lawyer Attiq Malik spoke about the school's investigation into allegations the youngster was being bullied. The family attended the police station to hear the findings of the report. The way it was delivered was criticised by the lawyer.

The meeting also heard from friend Misbah Khan, aged 19, who said: "Shukri was bullied, no matter what anyone says."

Bury Times:

Mr Malik said: "We are not happy with it, because the summary says that the school are not aware of any bullying of Shukri and the reason we are not happy with it is in the compiling that report no information has been gleaned from the mother of Shukri.

"Similarly, absence of information from parents of students at the same school so as far as the family is concerned this report, the way it was delivered was extremely unacceptable.

"The way the police conducted themselves by publishing their conclusions within hours and now for some reason they are still investigating, it doesn’t make sense."

He added: "The position of the family is this, trust and confidence with the police destroyed, trust and confidence in the school to investigate impartially destroyed. The situation now, and why this meeting has been arranged, is to turn to the people of Bury, to the community. That is where the power really lies, that’s where the information lies, and if the family are going to get any sort of justice that can only happen if the community helps.

"There are going to people out there with information of what happened on this tragic day or leading up to this incident. Even after the event they might have heard rumours, the process of investigations is any line of enquiry could be relevant. Our humble request to everybody is to pass this message on, we want people of Bury to come forward with any information they might help to assist the family in getting justice.

"What is justice? In this context it is the truth, the family do not know what happened that day, what they need to know is the truth or as near to possible what happened.

“And you can only get that truth if all the information comes in and a full and proper investigation is done and that is what this is all about."

The meeting was held at the Jinnah Day Care Centre in Alfred Street. Just under 50 people attended.

Representing the family was Shukri's cousin, Mustaf Omar Mohamed, aged 29.

He said: "The mother she is trying to cope with the reality of her daughter not being there and the other siblings are really young and I don’t think they have fully grasped what has happened.

“We have got support, the support has been out there. This started because of the community, people who knew Shukri, they have kids who went to the same school as her.

“They all say that she is such a nice girl and this is so out of character. The kids felt the anger first then the wider community, it definitely helped us. If we didn’t have the community behind us I don’t think we would have got this far.

“She couldn’t swim, she was scared of things she didn’t know and is the kind of the girl who is scared of something she won’t go near it."

Representatives from the council, police and other organisations were invited but did not attend, said organisers.

However, the Police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) will carry out an investigation after the force referred a complaint they had received about their actions, alleging that officers failed to conduct an effective investigation and prematurely concluded that the death of Shukri was not suspicious.

Amanda Rowe from the IOPC issued a statement to organisers which said: "I offer my sympathies on behalf of everyone at the IOPC to Shukri's family and all those mourning for her passing.

"We received a complaint which alleges GMP failed to properly investigate the report that Shukri was missing and her death. The complaint also alleges that the police investigation made premature conclusions at that Shukri's family was treated less favourably because of their ethnic background.

"We take these complaints very seriously. Our investigation will be through and independent. I know there are many questions about how and why Shukri came to be in the river that day and wider concerns about her social and school life. This is not something we can provide answers to this is for the police force and the corner to address. Our role is to look at what the police did and why and see, if anything, can be learned from this tragedy. I ask for your understanding and patience as we begin our work, we will do everything in our power to address these complaints and conduct an independent investigation which provides information and answers. We have met with Shukri's family and we will provide them with regular updates."