POLICE are to begin recording attacks and abuse directed at alternative subcultures as hate crimes for the first time.
• Greater Manchester Police to treat attacks on goths, punks, emos and metallers in same way as incidents of racism, sexism, homophobia as well as attacks based on religion or transgender
• “Proud day” hailed following five-year campaign after death of Sophie Lancaster in 2007
Greater Manchester Police announced that individuals targeted for abuse because of the alternative subculture to which they belong will receive support equal to that given to victims of racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination.
They will be the first police force in the country to do so.
Campaigners have hailed the move as a victory for people who identify themselves as goths, punks, emos or metallers, groups which GMP say will fall into the broad category of the subculture they seek to protect.
The decision follows a five-year campaign led by the mother of Sophie Lancaster, a 20-year-old who was murdered in 2007 because her attackers took exception to the way she was dressed.
Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: “The launch of this new strand of recordable hate crime is a major breakthrough. We are able to officially recognise that people who wish to express their alternative subculture identity freely should not have to tolerate hate crime – something that many people have to endure on a daily basis.
ACC Shewan added: “Sophie’s tragic death brought forward a need to recognise that there are many other victims of hate crime that should be protected by law.
“Hate crime ruins many people’s lives and in some cases can tragically cost lives. We work with many organisations to raise the awareness of what hate crime is and how victims can be supported and we will continue to encourage our communities to challenge it, report it and help us to stop it.”
Sylvia Lancaster, Sophie’s mother, said: “It is a very proud day for me personally and the rest of the team. It is a validation of the work we have undertaken in the past five years and hopefully other forces will follow GMP’s lead.”