The Greater Manchester Police announced Thursday attacks against sub-cultures will be considered as hate crimes.
(Image source: Wikimedia Commons ) BY LORA VLAEVA The Manchester police declared Thursday it would consider attacks against “alternative sub-cultures” as hate crimes — a first in the country. Here’s the Greater Manchester Police press release. “This typically centres on distinctive style, clothing, make up, body art and music preference...Groups typically under the ‘alternative’ umbrella include Goths, Emos, Punks and Metallers however this list is not exhaustive.” The decision to recognize attacks on sub-cultures as hate crimes adds to a list of five existing motives: race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity. And it comes after a campaign from the Sophie Lancaster Foundation — created after a gang beat 20-year-old Lancaster to death in 2007 because of the way she was dressed. (Via Sky News ) Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan called the new decision a “major breakthrough” and Stacey Elder, a friend of Sophie Lancaster, said the punk and goth community welcomed the move. “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.” (Via Euronews ) So what does it take for someone to be included in the listed subcultures? The BBC points out: there’s no one-size-fits-all definition. “One thing that is clear from the way emos and goths choose to define themselves is that a single definition does not exist...If the victim says they are an emo, and believes they were victimised because of it, Manchester police would treat it as a hate crime.” Which seems to mean nearly anyone could claim to have been a victim of a hate crime — an observation Shewan seemed to back up on Channel 4 . “If you experience a crime and the crime was motivated because of the way you look or because of the category or group that you belong to, than that is a hate crime.” But The Telegraph ’s Colin Freeman says he’s not sure what benefit the new regulations will bring, saying he himself was once targeted for no other reason than his being a student. “In my experience, those who enjoy inflicting pain on other people will generally settle for any excuse to do so, whether it's the colour of someone's skin, the clothes they wear, the size of their nose or whatever.” The Manchester Police’s decision has not been recognized nationally, and thus will not mean tougher sentences.