The Sophie Lancaster Foundation has persuaded the Manchester Police to begin to record offences against members of alternative subcultures in the same way they do attacks based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.
The GMP will be the first police force in Britain to take the step –and in a statement said that “goths, emos, punks and metallers” and members of other alternative groups have often endured abuse.
“People who wish to express their alternative sub-culture identity freely should not have to tolerate hate crime,” Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said.
Manchester police said the change would enable officers to give more support to victims of anti-punk or anti-Goth crime. But it won’t necessarily mean tougher sentences.
It’s a major coup for the Sophie lancaster Foundation after campaigning by the charity set up in the memory the 20-year-old Sophie who was fatally attacked in a park in 2007 because of her appearance.
The victim’s mother, Sylvia Lancaster, said the police move was “a validation of the work we have undertaken in the past five years and hopefully other forces will follow [Manchester police’s] lead.”
There are no immediate plans to change the national hate crimes register, but last year equalities minister Lynne Featherstone acknowledged that the five recognised categories of hate crime was “an incomplete list.”