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Police in Manchester have become the first force in Britain to register offences against members of alternative sub-cultures as hate crimes.

It follows the 2007 killing of 20-year-old Sarah Lancaster, a goth who was attacked in a park near the city because of her appearance.

Supporters of the foundation set up in her name have welcomed the move.

Stacey Elder, a friend of Sophie Lancaster described the measure as ground-breaking: “For years we’ve put up with this intolerance and prejudice as an entire community, and for Greater Manchester to take the initiative, to include it to a hate crime strand, is just going to be fantastic. We can get the figures up for the government to respond and hopefully take it nationally.”

Authorities say the action will allow them to give more support to victims of anti-punk or anti-goth offences, putting them on the same level as attacks based on race, religion or sexuality.

“If you’ve been a victim of hate crime, whatever the motivation, come forward, tell us your experience and we will investigate it and we will take it forward into the courts as a hate crime,” said Garry Shewan, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police.

British judicial guidelines call for people convicted of hate crimes to receive tougher sentences, however Manchester police’s decision has not been recognised nationally.

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