WIGAN teenagers are being urged to take a stand against hate crime by the mother of a tragic victim.
Sylvia Lancaster, whose daughter, Sophie, was killed in 2007 because she was a goth, has made an emotional plea for youngsters to be “proud of who they are.” And through the charity set up in her daughter’s name, Sylvia has also advised Wigan’s teenagers to seek help if they are victims of hate crimes.
Sylvia said: “Hate crime affects families, friends and communities.
“It starts with language, but can easily escalate. You may think you are powerless, but you aren’t – you can report it.
“It’s about having the bottle to say who you are and to be proud of who you are. Some of you may be victims of hate crime or you may have seen it.
“If you have seen it, don’t be a bystander – tell police.”
Deputy police commissioner Jim Battle praised Greater Manchester Police for being the first force in the country to recognise hate crime against people from “alternative cultures” – such as goths or emos.
Mr Battle said: “Sylvia has a powerful story to tell and the young people found it incredibly moving.
“By talking directly with pupils from schools across Greater Manchester through events such as the hate crime conference, we can help to educate children about the dangers of hate crime and how to feel comfortable enough to come forward about their suffering.
“Hate crime is a blight on our communities and sadly young people often face its brunt.”
Hate crime can be reported directly to police by calling 101, visiting a police station or online at www.report-it.org.uk. Across Greater Manchester there are a network of independent centres with specially-trained people who can report the incident to police on a victim’s behalf.
Details are available on the Commissioner’s website at gmpcc.org.uk/hatecrime.