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British police: Attacks on goths and punks are hate crimes

Posted By Kristen Butler, UPI.com   |   April 4, 2013 at 8:36 AM   |   Comments

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April 4 (UPI) -- Greater Manchester Police is set to become the first force in Britain to recognise attacks on members of alternative subcultures. Assaults on goths, emos, punks and other minority groups will be officially labelled as hate crimes, though courts won't be able to issue harsher sentences without a change in the law.

The change comes after goth student Sophie Lancaster, 20, was killed when she and her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, 21, were brutally attacked in a park. The Daily Mail reports that Lancaster was a "goth" who had nearly 20 piercings in her face, lip and nose and was a fan of alternative rocker Marilyn Manson.

Afterward, the teens celebrated their attack on the "moshers," a reference to mosh pit dancing at some types of metal concerts. They reportedly told their friends, "there’s two moshers nearly dead up Bacup park -- you wanna see them -- they're a right mess."

Lancaster survived for 13 days in intensive care before her family made the difficult decision to have her life support turned off. Her two killers received a 16-year-minimum and 18-year-minimum sentences. Three other teens admitted to beating Maltby. They were jailed for between four and six years.

Garry Shewan, assistant chief constable in Greater Manchester Police said that "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. I am proud to say we are now the first force in the country to officially record alternative subculture as a sixth strand of hate crime motivation."

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