Stop Hate Crime UK has welcomed Greater Manchester Police’s decision to recognise attacks on members of subcultures, such as goths, punks and emos, as hate crimes.

On Thursday, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) became the first force in the UK to treat the offences in such a way.

Previously GMP only registered offences against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity as potential hate crimes.

Offences motivated by hatred for the victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or transgender identity currently can receive higher custodial sentences.

However, the law would need to be changed in England and Wales for subcultures offences to be treated in the same way by judges.

“Stop Hate UK is delighted that Greater Manchester Police will now be recording hate crime motivated by prejudice and hostility towards people from alternative subcultures,” the charity said in a statement.

“This is an outstanding achievement which reflects the tireless efforts of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation to invoke change.

“What this change in recording processes means is that Greater Manchester Police will produce statistics for crimes motivated by membership of or hostility towards alternative subculture groups. These statistics will be reported alongside the statistics for other forms of hate crime.”

Stop Hate Crime UK said: “Over time this will allow Greater Manchester Police to establish trends, patterns and areas where hate crime against people from alternative subcultures is particularly prevalent”.

However, it added: “It is important to recognise that there has been no change in hate crime legislation to include crimes motivated by prejudice or hostility towards people from alternative subcultures. In that sense, this change does not afford these groups with any additional legal protection and it does not create statutory increased penalties for those convicted of crimes of bias and prejudice against people from alternative subcultures.

“This is something that we must continue to talk about and highlight as part of the hate crime agenda. However, what has been achieved by the Sophie Lancaster Foundation is a significant step towards a change in legislation and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation towards this goal.”

GMP and Stop Hate Crime UK has been working with the Sophie Lancaster Foundation as part of the new policy.

Sophie Lancaster died in 2007 at the age of 20 after her and her boyfriend were brutally attacked as they walked home through a park in Lancashire.

The judge recognised her death as a hate crime because they were targeted for being goths.