WEST Mercia Police (WMP) have announced they are taking steps to offer better protection to members of alternative subcultures including those in Herefordshire.

Following the news that Greater Manchester Police will begin recording offences against members of alternative subcultures - such as goth, punk and emo – as hate crimes, WMP told the Hereford Times they are putting together a ‘bespoke package’ for anyone who reports abuse, physical or verbal, because of the way they dress.

This comes following the tireless campaigning of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation (SLF), which was set up following the death of 20-year-old Sophie in 2007.

Sophie was kicked to death in a Lancashire park because of her gothic appearance.

Chris Ammonds, spokesperson for WMP, said they have been working closely with SLF to put together the package.

“We are in the process of creating a bespoke package that records these types of offences - when someone reports these offences to us, the fact that they were a victim of an offence which they believe is because of the way they dressed will be recorded as a motivating factor,” he said.

“It is being rolled out to staff to help with training in the future.”

Sylvia Lancaster, the mother of Sophie and the founder of SLF, called the latest news ‘absolutely fantastic’.

“We’ve been doing a lot of work with WMP on their Safer Schools initiative, but this news is just brilliant,” she added.

“It all started with Greater Manchester Police by discussing the trial that followed Sophie’s death, the consequences and how we can change things. We help with training teachers and police to deal with these kind of attacks and just hope this is the start of more to come.”

To find out more about the foundation visit www.sophielancasterfoundation.com.