THE mother of Sophie Lancaster, the 20-year-old who was murdered in Rosendale in 2007 because of her lifestyle choice, is a headline speaker at an event in Halifax to raise awareness of hate crime this week.
On Wednesday, Calderdale’s Hate Crime Partnership is hosting a seminar and workshops on ‘tackling hate crime’ as part of Hate Crime Awareness Week, which runs until 19 October. The week of action aims to raise awareness of hate crime, support those affected and remember those who have tragically lost their lives to hate crime.
The Home Office defines hate crime as any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim, or other people, to be motivated by prejudice against them because of a personal characteristic. This could be their race or ethnicity; religion or beliefs; disability; gender or gender identity or sexual orientation.
Sophie Lancaster and her boyfriend Robert Maltby were attacked by a group of teenage boys in August 2007 while walking through a Rossendale park. It is widely accepted they were singled out for being part of the goth sub-culture. She later died of injuries sustained in the attack.
Her mother Sylvia established the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in her memory. She has gone on to be awarded an OBE for her work on community cohesion and tackling hate crime through education.
Joining her at the event, which takes place at Calderdale College on Wednesday, fellow speakers will include Caroline Jones, chair of Calderdale Hate Crime Partnership; Councillor Tim Swift, Calderdale Council’s leader; Zohrah Zancudi, the council’s director of public services; John Rees, principal and chief executive of Calderdale College; Gerry Wareham, chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) Yorkshire & Humberside; Paul Giannasi OBE, police hate crime policy lead at National Police Chiefs’ Council; and West Yorkshire Police.
“One of Calderdale’s strengths is its diversity, which makes it a socially, culturally and economically vibrant place,” said Councillor Faisal Shoukat, Calderdale Council’s cabinet member for public health and cohesion.
“We have a zero tolerance approach to any form of hate crime. It can have devastating impacts on individuals and whole communities, and no one should suffer in silence. That’s why we urge people to report any hate incident that they may have experienced or witnessed, to ensure support can be given, so that action can be taken against perpetrators where appropriate, and to help make our communities safer for everyone.”
A variety of organisations and agencies are involved in the Calderdale Hate Crime Partnership. These include Calderdale Council, West Yorkshire Police, Calderdale College, Citizens Advice Calderdale, West Yorkshire Victim Support, CPS Yorkshire & Humberside, Brunswick Centre, South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, Restorative Justice and West Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service, and Together Housing Group.
“We have an established partnership that is committed to ensuring appropriate support is made available,” said the partnership’s chair, Caroline Jones. “Not only will victims get the necessary support they need to overcome the effects of the hate crime through the partnership, we will also ensure that where possible, action is taken against individuals or groups that perpetrate these crimes.”