Sophie Lancaster campaign gets police support
Attacks against fans of metal, goth, emo and punk music are to be listed as hate crimes by Manchester police, following a campaign by the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.
Sophie was murdered in a vicious assault in 2007 at the age of 20. A gang of thugs attacked her and boyfriend Robert Maltby – just because they were wearing goth clothes. Two of the thugs were sentenced to life in jail while three others were convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm.
Since then the foundation created in her memory has fought to bring attention to attacks against people who happen to enjoy heavy or dark music.
Now Greater Manchester Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan says: “People who wish to express their alternative subculture identity should not have to tolerate hate crime.
Sophie’s mum Sylvia adds: “It’s a validation of the work we have undertaken in the past five years. Hopefully other forces will follow.”
The change of category means that hate crimes against subcultures will become more visible, leading to the availability of more support for victims. It doesn’t necessarily mean a change in sentencing for those found guilty of such offences.
While Manchester’s lead does not have to be followed by the rest of the UK, Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone last year admitted that the current list of hate crimes, limited to five categories – race, religion, disability, homophobia and transgender – was “incomplete.”
A stage at the Bloodstock Open Air festival has been named in Sophie’s honour since 2009.
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