Police extend hate crime to subcultures

April 4, 2013 at 9:29 AM
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MANCHESTER, England, April 4 (UPI) -- The Greater Manchester Police in Britain extended hate-crime laws to subcultures such as punk rockers, Goths and heavy metal fans, a spokesman said.

The decision means crime victims who think they were targeted because of their clothing, hairstyle or preference in music will receive special support from the police, The Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

Currently, courts consider hate-crime enhancement during sentencing if a crime is based on religion, ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation.

"The launch of this new strand of recordable hate crime is a major breakthrough," Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan said. "We are able to officially recognize 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."

"This means that we can recognize the impact that alternative subculture hate crime has on its victims and the wider community," Shewan said. "[We] can offer better support and risk assess the potential for repeat victimization."

The force plans to offer special training for officers to better understand the victims of such hate crimes, the Telegraph said.

The decision by the Manchester police force to amend the definition of a hate crime was welcomed by the mother of Sophie Lancaster, a 20-year-old Goth who was killed in 2007 because of the way she was dressed. She was attacked as she walked through a park with her boyfriend, and never regained consciousness after being kicked in the head repeatedly.

Her mother, Sylvia Lancaster, said the force's decision was "a validation of the work we have undertaken in the past five years and hopefully other forces will follow [Greater Manchester Police's] lead."

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