Lancashire TelegraphSophie Lancaster's mum set to win tougher sentences for hate crimes (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Sophie Lancaster's mum set to win tougher sentences for hate crimes

Lancashire Telegraph: MOTHER: Sylvia Lancaster with Jack Straw outside the Ministry of Justice MOTHER: Sylvia Lancaster with Jack Straw outside the Ministry of Justice

A MUM is set to win her battle for the creation of ‘Sophie’s Law’ in memory of her murdered daughter.

Sylvia Lancaster’s daughter Sophie was kicked and stamped to death because she was dressed like a goth.

Mrs Lancaster yesterday won a landmark victory when she met Justice Minister and Blackburn MP Jack Straw in London.

For nearly two years she has fought hard for attacks on people from sub cultures to be classified as a hate crime, allowing judges the power to issue tougher penalties.

Mrs Lancaster’s campaign has been calling for the introduction of what she labelled ‘Sophie’s Law’.

Mr Straw told her he could not alter the law but instead proposed changes to sentencing guidelines for judges. Sophie’s friends and campaigners hailed Mr Straw’s announcement as a ‘great victory’.

Sophie, 20, who grew up in Haslingden, was murdered in an attack in Stubbylee Park, Bacup, in August 2007, while trying to protect her boyfriend Robert Maltby.

They were targeted because they were dressed as goths. The brutality of the attack - and particularly a picture released by Sophie’s family showing her laying in a coma - shocked Britain.

Two boys, aged 15 and 16, were jailed for her murder last March.

Sophie’s mother Sylvia said the meeting with Mr Straw was a “huge step forward” in her campaign in the former Haslingden High School pupil’s memory.

She said: “Most young people like to express themselves through their appearance and why shouldn’t they?

“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.”

Kate Conboy-Greenwood, the manager of the Stamp Out Prejudice and Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere (Sophie) campaign, said it was a great victory.

She said: “What we are asking for is that when it comes to sentencing judges are given guidelines to treat attacks on people like Sophie as they would if it was a racially motivated assault, or a homophobic incident.

“We have been told by Mr Straw that changes can be made.

“People from alternative cultures and their families need to know that there is protection in the law.

“We need to make sure that the memory of Sophie, and what happened to her, is never forgotten. We have had an incredibly positive meeting and we are very happy about what we have been told so far.”

The family was joined by Greg Pope, Haslingden MP, and Janet Anderson, Rossendale MP, in the meeting.

Mr Pope said: “There needs to be legislation in place that protects those people who are just trying to go about their business and dress as they please.

“We have now been given assurances about changes to sentencing guidelines. Attacks like the one on Sophie must be branded as a hate crime.

“If that happens it will be a huge change to the law and that is all because of the hard work, bravery and determination of Sylvia.

“I can only imagine the suffering she has gone through but she has shown huge strength. She is an admirable woman.”

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.

He said: “I met with Mrs Lancaster and it was very helpful to hear what she had to say.

“I agree with her that greater attention has to be paid to hate crimes that are carried against people in an alternative culture like goths.”

Comments (12)

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12:56pm Thu 7 May 09

Wikidi says...

LET mistakes are very common for you reading other people complaining of you in fact MP Greg Pope represents the small district called Hyndburn
LET mistakes are very common for you reading other people complaining of you in fact MP Greg Pope represents the small district called Hyndburn Wikidi
  • Score: 0

1:27pm Thu 7 May 09

Merlin The Voice of Reason says...

Wikidi wrote:
LET mistakes are very common for you reading other people complaining of you in fact MP Greg Pope represents the small district called Hyndburn
What point are you making?
[quote][p][bold]Wikidi[/bold] wrote: LET mistakes are very common for you reading other people complaining of you in fact MP Greg Pope represents the small district called Hyndburn [/p][/quote]What point are you making? Merlin The Voice of Reason
  • Score: 0

1:46pm Thu 7 May 09

mummycluck says...

Good point, Merlin!!
Good point, Merlin!! mummycluck
  • Score: 0

2:16pm Thu 7 May 09

Nad says...

Wikidi wrote:
LET mistakes are very common for you reading other people complaining of you in fact MP Greg Pope represents the small district called Hyndburn
Jack Straw MP for Blackburn just happens to be the Justice Minister. DOH.
[quote][p][bold]Wikidi[/bold] wrote: LET mistakes are very common for you reading other people complaining of you in fact MP Greg Pope represents the small district called Hyndburn [/p][/quote]Jack Straw MP for Blackburn just happens to be the Justice Minister. DOH. Nad
  • Score: 0

2:18pm Thu 7 May 09

Paul Cockerton says...

Wikidi wrote:
LET mistakes are very common for you reading other people complaining of you in fact MP Greg Pope represents the small district called Hyndburn
Hi Wikidi. It's not a mistake on our part.

Greg Pope's constituency is called Hyndburn, but it actually covers Haslingden as well, which is in Rossendale.

Janet Anderson is MP for Darwen and Rossendale.

As Sophie lived in Bacup and went to school in Haslingden, both MPs were involved in the meeting with Jack Straw yesterday.
[quote][p][bold]Wikidi[/bold] wrote: LET mistakes are very common for you reading other people complaining of you in fact MP Greg Pope represents the small district called Hyndburn [/p][/quote]Hi Wikidi. It's not a mistake on our part. Greg Pope's constituency is called Hyndburn, but it actually covers Haslingden as well, which is in Rossendale. Janet Anderson is MP for Darwen and Rossendale. As Sophie lived in Bacup and went to school in Haslingden, both MPs were involved in the meeting with Jack Straw yesterday. Paul Cockerton
  • Score: 0

6:23pm Thu 7 May 09

Old Timer says...

Come on you lot....
this is about a mum fighting for "Sophie's Law" not a scoring points game. Well done Sylvia by winning your hard fight after such a tragedy
Come on you lot.... this is about a mum fighting for "Sophie's Law" not a scoring points game. Well done Sylvia by winning your hard fight after such a tragedy Old Timer
  • Score: 0

8:47pm Thu 7 May 09

Lifeinthemix says...

Hi All.

Well how interesting it is to know Greg Pope can actually speak :
Mr Pope said:
“There needs to be legislation in place that protects those people who are just trying to go about their business and dress as they please.

I wonder why he has absolutely no concern, nor felling it his duty, to investigate Hyndburn Council's refusal to aknowledge Freedom of Information requests.

Of course under the former topic, MP's gain yet more powers to bang everybody in prison, while the latter, I have to say.. finding it hard to believe he has nothing to hide from the exposure of the information I have thus requested.
Take a look HERE :

http://www.lifeinthe
mix2.co.uk/common_pu
rpose.html
Hi All. Well how interesting it is to know Greg Pope can actually speak : Mr Pope said: “There needs to be legislation in place that protects those people who are just trying to go about their business and dress as they please. I wonder why he has absolutely no concern, nor felling it his duty, to investigate Hyndburn Council's refusal to aknowledge Freedom of Information requests. Of course under the former topic, MP's gain yet more powers to bang everybody in prison, while the latter, I have to say.. finding it hard to believe he has nothing to hide from the exposure of the information I have thus requested. Take a look HERE : http://www.lifeinthe mix2.co.uk/common_pu rpose.html Lifeinthemix
  • Score: 0

8:49pm Thu 7 May 09

Lifeinthemix says...

Hi All.

Well how interesting it is to know Greg Pope can actually speak :
Mr Pope said:
“There needs to be legislation in place that protects those people who are just trying to go about their business and dress as they please.

I wonder why he has absolutely no concern, nor felling it his duty, to investigate Hyndburn Council's refusal to aknowledge Freedom of Information requests.

Of course under the former topic, MP's gain yet more powers to bang everybody in prison, while the latter, I have to say.. finding it hard to believe he has nothing to hide from the exposure of the information I have thus requested.
Take a look HERE :

http://www.lifeinthe
mix2.co.uk/common_pu
rpose.html
Hi All. Well how interesting it is to know Greg Pope can actually speak : Mr Pope said: “There needs to be legislation in place that protects those people who are just trying to go about their business and dress as they please. I wonder why he has absolutely no concern, nor felling it his duty, to investigate Hyndburn Council's refusal to aknowledge Freedom of Information requests. Of course under the former topic, MP's gain yet more powers to bang everybody in prison, while the latter, I have to say.. finding it hard to believe he has nothing to hide from the exposure of the information I have thus requested. Take a look HERE : http://www.lifeinthe mix2.co.uk/common_pu rpose.html Lifeinthemix
  • Score: 0

8:49pm Thu 7 May 09

Lifeinthemix says...

Hi All.

Well how interesting it is to know Greg Pope can actually speak :
Mr Pope said:
“There needs to be legislation in place that protects those people who are just trying to go about their business and dress as they please.

I wonder why he has absolutely no concern, nor felling it his duty, to investigate Hyndburn Council's refusal to aknowledge Freedom of Information requests.

Of course under the former topic, MP's gain yet more powers to bang everybody in prison, while the latter, I have to say.. finding it hard to believe he has nothing to hide from the exposure of the information I have thus requested.
Take a look HERE :

http://www.lifeinthe
mix2.co.uk/common_pu
rpose.html
Hi All. Well how interesting it is to know Greg Pope can actually speak : Mr Pope said: “There needs to be legislation in place that protects those people who are just trying to go about their business and dress as they please. I wonder why he has absolutely no concern, nor felling it his duty, to investigate Hyndburn Council's refusal to aknowledge Freedom of Information requests. Of course under the former topic, MP's gain yet more powers to bang everybody in prison, while the latter, I have to say.. finding it hard to believe he has nothing to hide from the exposure of the information I have thus requested. Take a look HERE : http://www.lifeinthe mix2.co.uk/common_pu rpose.html Lifeinthemix
  • Score: 0

8:50pm Thu 7 May 09

Lifeinthemix says...

Hi All.

Well how interesting it is to know Greg Pope can actually speak :
Mr Pope said:
“There needs to be legislation in place that protects those people who are just trying to go about their business and dress as they please.

I wonder why he has absolutely no concern, nor felling it his duty, to investigate Hyndburn Council's refusal to aknowledge Freedom of Information requests.

Of course under the former topic, MP's gain yet more powers to bang everybody in prison, while the latter, I have to say.. finding it hard to believe he has nothing to hide from the exposure of the information I have thus requested.
Take a look HERE :

http://www.lifeinthe
mix2.co.uk/common_pu
rpose.html
Hi All. Well how interesting it is to know Greg Pope can actually speak : Mr Pope said: “There needs to be legislation in place that protects those people who are just trying to go about their business and dress as they please. I wonder why he has absolutely no concern, nor felling it his duty, to investigate Hyndburn Council's refusal to aknowledge Freedom of Information requests. Of course under the former topic, MP's gain yet more powers to bang everybody in prison, while the latter, I have to say.. finding it hard to believe he has nothing to hide from the exposure of the information I have thus requested. Take a look HERE : http://www.lifeinthe mix2.co.uk/common_pu rpose.html Lifeinthemix
  • Score: 0

10:22pm Thu 7 May 09

BigJockKnew says...

These idiot MP's are suddenly listening to the public.They know theyre on borrowed time.Theyve done nothing to protect decent people from ferral scumbags.Jack Sh@t has been at it again claiming for whats not his.
These idiot MP's are suddenly listening to the public.They know theyre on borrowed time.Theyve done nothing to protect decent people from ferral scumbags.Jack Sh@t has been at it again claiming for whats not his. BigJockKnew
  • Score: 0

6:09pm Fri 8 May 09

Kate C says...

I have just returned from London after the meeting with Jack Straw, Greg Pope and Janet Anderson as the voluntary Campaign Manager of the S.O.P.H.I.E. campaign.

Sylvia has never called for a "Sophie Law", she is asking for an extension of the existing Hate Crime Bill. Mr Straw, as I am quoted as saying, was very assuring;saying that he will look at charging and sentencing policy and procedures to see where they can be amended to offer all people from "alternative subcultures". Sophie and Rob were attacked for how they looked and thankfully their attackers and murderers were sentenced with hate as an aggravating factor at the discretion of Judge Russell and given longer sentences. We are calling for the change so that it is not discretionary but enshrined in the Act to ensure perpetrators are treated as such by all Police, CPS and Judiciary officers.

The meeting was very productive and the support from Greg and Janet has been very welcome.

Sylvia will discuss it further on BBC's The Politics Show on Sunday.

Thanks for your continued support.

Kate Conboy-Greenwood
I have just returned from London after the meeting with Jack Straw, Greg Pope and Janet Anderson as the voluntary Campaign Manager of the S.O.P.H.I.E. campaign. Sylvia has never called for a "Sophie Law", she is asking for an extension of the existing Hate Crime Bill. Mr Straw, as I am quoted as saying, was very assuring;saying that he will look at charging and sentencing policy and procedures to see where they can be amended to offer all people from "alternative subcultures". Sophie and Rob were attacked for how they looked and thankfully their attackers and murderers were sentenced with hate as an aggravating factor at the discretion of Judge Russell and given longer sentences. We are calling for the change so that it is not discretionary but enshrined in the Act to ensure perpetrators are treated as such by all Police, CPS and Judiciary officers. The meeting was very productive and the support from Greg and Janet has been very welcome. Sylvia will discuss it further on BBC's The Politics Show on Sunday. Thanks for your continued support. Kate Conboy-Greenwood Kate C
  • Score: 0

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