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REVEALED: Recorded hate crimes on the rise in Preston

Sophie Lancaster
Sophie Lancaster
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Almost 500 hate crimes were recorded in Preston in the 12 months up to June, it has been revealed.

The figures have increased by more than two-and-a-half times in just two years, according to a report by the city council’s crime and disorder committee.

And a study, approved by the authority’s cabinet last week, reveals the total could have been even higher had attacks on groups like Goths been officially recorded.

Now the council is calling for the legal definition of a hate crime to be widened to include Goths and other “alternative sub-cultures.”

The move comes 11 years after the murder of Sophie Lancaster by youths in a Lancashire park.

A year-long study in Preston has shown there were 475 offences classified as hate crimes between July 2017 and June 2018. The previous year there were 263 and in 2015/16 the figures was 177.

Lancashire as a whole has seen hate crimes rise from 936 to 2,352 over the same period - with Brexit suspected of having some effect.

In their report the committee made seven recommendations including offering the Town Hall as a reporting centre for people who feel they have been the victim of a hate crime.

Chairman Coun Jonathan Saksena said: “It is a national thing really and we don’t think it is anything particular to Preston. But Brexit has had an effect.”

The recommendations put forward by the committee include the council promoting awareness of hate crime and how it can be reported and offering training to all councillors and staff. The authority could also appoint a “hate crime champion” and also promote local ward councillors as a point of contact.

Sophie Lancaster Foundation

Preston Council could ask the charity to help train councillors and staff about hate crime under a new move to increase awareness in the city.

A senior police officer who met with Sophie’s mother Sylvia has advised the committee during its year-long study.

Sophie and her boyfriend Rob Maltby, who both dressed as Goths, were attacked in a park in Bacup in 2007 because of the way they looked. Sophie died and Rob was injured.

Since then mum has been campaigning to ensure that an offence against someone because of lifestyle choice should be legally identified as a hate crime. Currently it is not recorded as such.