Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Punks can be hate crime victims

Offences against members of alternative subcultures, such as punks, goths and emos, are being recorded as hate crimes

A police force has begun recording offences against members of alternative subcultures as hate crimes.

Greater Manchester Police is believed to be the first force to add abuse towards groups such as goths, emos and punks in the same way they do attacks based on race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity.

Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said: "People who wish to express their alternative sub-culture identity freely should not have to tolerate hate crime."

A police spokesman said: "From April 2013 Greater Manchester Police also now records alternative sub-culture related hate crime.

"We have done this following work we have carried out in partnership with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, as we feel that adding this extra category of hate crime will help us better understand how some people are suffering from crimes because of their appearance, and better respond to the needs of victims of crime.

"You can let Greater Manchester Police know about an alternative sub-culture hate crime via the national True Vision on-line reporting form - simply select 'other' as a category and write alternative sub-culture in the box provided."

Miss Lancaster, 20, was kicked and stamped to death because she was dressed as a goth in a park in Bacup, Lancashire, in August 2007. She slipped into a coma and never regained consciousness.

The foundation is campaigning to get hate crimes laws expanded to include "alternative subcultures or lifestyle and dress" and has gained support from musicians including Gary Numan and Courtney Love.

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".

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