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Should subculture abuse be classed as a hate crime?

Another police force have added it to list of offences – giving members of alternative communities greater levels of protection

Laws in England and Wales currently define five hate crime categories – disability, gender identity, race, religion and sexual orientation. However, regional forces can add their own as they see fit. Now Leicester is the latest place to treat subculture abuse as a hate crime.

There are now nine forces across the UK that do. This desire for classification goes back to 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster’s story. Sophie was walking through a park with her boyfriend when they were attacked by a group of teenage boys. Her boyfriend made it through but tragically she later passed away. They identified as goths and had attracted the attack because of how they dressed.

That was in 2007 and since then her mother, Sylvia Lancaster OBE, has been campaigning consistently to raise awareness of subculture-related violence, with a lot of support from the alternative world. In response, police forces have genuinely reconsidered how they think about this type of abuse. Leicestershire Police, for example, now say they are committed to ensuring that no-one is targeted because of their appearance.

Sylvia Lancaster told the BBC that people from alternative communities can now be confident they will be taken seriously if they report their concerns to the force. “It's a wider issue than people realise,” she said. “It's because alternative subcultures are under the radar, they are not part of the mainstream, and they put up with the abuse and intolerance they face. They put up with abuse starting from name calling up to physical abuse.”

Whether this classification would ever be taken up across the country is yet to be seen. Are attacks on goths as prevalent as those against Muslims, for example? There have been many to criticise the inclusion of subcultures with categories such as sexuality or race.

Have you been attacked for your subculture? Do you think as a nation we should include subculture abuse in hate crime classification?