PEOPLE who belong to alternative subcultures will now get full protection from the police if they are the victim of a hate crime.

West Mercia Police's new Hate Crime strategy will ensure everyone in the county gets the same protection whether targeted because of their skin colour, religion, sexuality or the way they dress.

This is the result of tireless campaigning by The Sophie Lancaster Foundation 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 and since then the foundation has worked with police forces around the country to ensure better protection for anyone attacked - physically or verbally - for their choice of dress or lifestyle.

Superintendent Graeme Pallister, crime manager for Warwickshire and West Mercia Police, said: “Hate crime is where people are unjustly treated because of what they are, not who they are.

“We live in a multi-cultural and diverse society and it is important that members of our community know that whatever group or culture they belong to, they have the same rights as everyone else to live their life as they choose and to live it whatever their religion, lifestyle, sexuality, gender, appearance, views or ability.

“No one should suffer the indignity and the trauma of being a victim of crime through ignorant hatred of what they are.

“It is equally important that people should know that if they are a victim of hate crime because of the group they are in or the views they have, they know that the police will listen and will treat them fairly and the issues they have experienced will be investigated.

“We do not know how many hate crimes currently go unreported, so by launching our Hate Crime strategy we want to build trust so people will come forward and tell us what is happening to them. The Hate Crime strategy is about giving people the confidence to come to the police if they are abused because of the group they are a part of."

This news comes a year after Greater Manchester Police announced they would record offences against members of alternative subcultures - such as goth, punk and emo – as hate crimes.