Efforts of the Sophie Campaign have finally paid off. It looks like there will be no changes in the law at the moment BUT more importantly it looks like there will be alterations in the sentencing guidelines which means judges can use prejudice against alternative subcultures as a reason to increase sentences.
BBC News - Lancashire - Plea to Straw over Goth's death . Last updated: 6 May 2009
The BBC report features video of Straw talking about the legal situation.
MURDERED GOTH SOPHIE'S LAW GETS STRAW'S BACKING
The Daily Mirror (London); May 8, 2009; PATRICK MULCHRONE; p. 25
THE mum of a murdered goth girl has won a landmark victory in her fight for Sophie's Law Sophie Lancaster, 20, was kicked
to death by a gang in 2007 because of the way she dressed. Mum Sylvia wants
attacks on people in subcultures classed as hate crimes so judges can give
She took her fight to Justice Minister Jack Straw, who said he could not
alter the law but proposed changes to sentencing guidelines. Mr Straw said:
"Greater attention has to be paid to hate crimes against people in an
alternative culture like goths." The plans could see sentences extended by up to
said: "We want Jack Straw to bring the hate crime legislation into the 21st
century, and recognise that a high proportion of people that dress differently
often face attack and abuse." Ryan Herbert and Brendan Harris got life last
March for murdering Sophie in Bacup, Lancs,
in August 2007.
Herbert, 16, must serve a minimum of 15 years six months. Harris, 15, at
8:40am Thursday 7 May 2009
A MUM is set to win her battle for the creation of ‘Sophie’s Law’ in memory of her murdered daughter...
Some of the other coverage took a different spin on the meeting though. However you look at it is a massive success as long as it goes through.
Senior judges and police officers will be consulted by the government on the proposed changes before they are adopted. They will allow judges to issue greater sentences in crimes where they victim is from a sub culture.
This could range from months extra to years, depending on the crime.
Mr Straw said he did not think it was right to change the law, but that sentencing guidelines were what would have to be altered.
Mum vows to fight on in battle to change hate-crime laws
THE mother of a young woman murdered because she dressed like a Goth said yesterday she was disappointed that the government had no plans to change its hate-crime legislation.
Sylvia Lancaster, whose 20-year-old daughter, Sophie, was kicked to death because she looked like a Goth, wants the government to recognise that a high proportion of people who dress differently often face attack and abuse.
Yesterday she told Justice Secretary Jack Straw that the hate-crime legislation needed to be brought “into the 21st century”, but Mr Straw insisted the law did not need to be changed.
Mrs Lancaster, of Rawtenstall, Lancashire, said that while it was a positive meeting, she was disappointed and would continue her campaign. She said Mr Straw told her that instead of changing legislation, he wanted to do more to make sure the police were aware of the prejudice faced by alternative sub-cultures.
Mrs Lancaster said: “We went into the meeting hoping that we would get the hate-crime legislation changed to include all sub- cultures.
“What happened was Mr Straw changed the agenda, if you will. Rather than change the legislation, he’s talking about looking at the process that the police go through and the CPS.”
Later Mr Straw said: “I have a great deal of sympathy for Mrs Lancaster and I was grateful for the opportunity to hear her concerns today. “We need to tackle crimes such as these and prevent them happening if possible.”
Mrs Lancaster’s daughter was kicked repeatedly in the head after a drunken gang of teenagers turned on her and her boyfriend, Robert Maltby, in a park in Bacup, Lancashire, in August 2007.