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  1. ITV Report

Dad of Northumberland student Charlie Pope backs calls for better safety measures at Manchester canal

Charlie Pope whose body was pulled from a canal in Manchester Credit: Greater Manchester Police

The father of 19-year-old student Charlie Pope has backed calls for safety barriers after his son's body was pulled from a Manchester canal.

Charlie, from Ponteland, in Northumberland, was in his first year of a social sciences degree at the University of Manchester. He went missing after a night out in the city centre in the early hours of last Thursday.

Police divers found his body in a stretch of the Rochdale Canal on Friday.

A petition on the Change.org website is calling for barriers to be put up across the city centre’s waterways and canal-sides after deaths over recent years.

Speaking to ITV Tyne Tees, Charlie's dad Nick said he hoped his son's death would be the last and was starting a campaign called #makecharliethelast.

He said: "This can't keep happening to families. It's not an accident, I've seen a statistic that 80 people have died in Manchester canals in 10 years. That's no accident, that's a preventable thing."

Councillor Pat Karney, City Centre spokesperson for Manchester City Council, said: "All of Manchester is thinking of Charlie's family at this painful time and we send our most sincere condolences to them.

"We will meet with petitioners to see what can be done to prevent further tragedies along the canal side."

David Baldacchino, waterway manager at the Canal & River Trust added: “We are part of a water safety partnership with Manchester City Council, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue, and Greater Manchester Police to deal with issues of water safety in the city centre. We'll be meeting with them as soon as we can to review what's happened and see what we can do to improve the safety in the area.

"The Canal & River Trust is committed to ensure that the 2,000 miles of canals and rivers can be enjoyed safely and we will be doing all we can through education and other safety improvements to reduce the likelihood that this tragedy doesn’t happen again.”

Tributes have been coming in to the 19-year-old, including from his former headteacher at Ponteland High School.

Charlie left the Northumberland School in 2017 after securing grade As in A levels in Economics, Psychology and Sociology.

The school described him as a "diligent and conscientious student" who mentored younger students in the school and volunteered at an old people’s home as well as coaching youth cricket.

Headteacher Kieran McGrane said: “It was dreadful to hear the tragic news of Charlie’s death over the weekend. He was a valued member of our school for a number of years and always conducted himself in a mature and considerate manner. He was a lovely young man with an easy way about him.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Charlie’s parents and his elder brother, Joe, and younger sister, Daisy, at such a difficult time.”