Lifestyle & Belief

Attacks on goths and punks are hate crimes, says Manchester police


An Acehnese punker with Mohawk hairstyle in Banda Aceh, Aceh Province, Indonesia.


Fauzan Ijazah

Punks, emo kids, goths and other subculture members will now be afforded special protection in Manchester, England, as the Greater Manchester Police have deemed attacks specifically targeting these groups hate crimes.

The new measure was introduced after the 2007 beating death of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, who was attacked and killed as she attempted to protect her boyfriend when the duo were jumped.

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In England, hate crimes can only be committed on the grounds of race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity — and although such attacks will be recorded as hate crimes in Manchester, they may not receive the same designation in national English courts, according to the International Business Times.

Lancaster's mother Sylvie Lancaster set up the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in an effort to stop such attacks against subculture members, and applauded the move in the Telegraph.

"It is a very proud day for me personally and the rest of the team. It is a validation of the work we have undertaken in the past five years and hopefully other forces will follow GMP’s lead.”

The two boys who attacked Sophie and her boyfriend were both sentenced to life in prison for the crime in 2008, according to the BBC.

Others worry that branding such crimes as specifically hate-motivated may water down the distinction to a dangerous degree.

"People's racial origins, their religion, their sexual orientation, people's dignity in the face of disability — these have been lines in the sand with the law saying, look, these are crimes that threaten social cohesion as a whole and therefore national life," said Lord Macdonald, former director of public prosecution, to the BBC. "I'm a little cautious about watering down this concept."