Hate crimes against people from alternative cultures are not reported to police more than 70 per cent of the time, a leading Lancashire charity has found.

Campaigners from the Sophie Lancaster Foundation in Haslingden say they will redouble their advocacy effortds after commissioning a wide-ranging survey on hate crimes experience in alternative communities.

Their pledge comes 16 years after Sophie was brutally beaten by thugs in an East Lancs park and later died from her injuries, while trying to protect her boyfriend Robert Maltby.

Jailing those responsible in 2007, Judge Anthony Russell QC said: "I am satisfied the only reason for this wholly unprovoked attack, was that Robert Maltby and Sophie Lancaster were singled out for their appearance alone because they looked and dressed differently from you and your friends."

But even though the senior judge was adamant her murder was a 'hate crime', the Law Commission failed to formally classifiy it as such in a 2021 review.

The charity said 80 per cent of those responding to the survey said they had experienced harassment or assaults regularly or occasionally.

However 73 per cent told researchers they had never reported their 'hate crime' to police, and just under a third of those involved said the level of demonisation had made them feel suicidal.

A foundation spokesperson said: "The data speaks for itself and backs up the experiences recounted to us in the emails and calls we receive every week and at every festival and event we go to.

"Alternative people are harassed, demonised, marginalised and assaulted on a regular basis, simply for being who they are.

"When there are conversations about hate crime, it ends up being about what they were wearing or their ‘choices’ and not about the attitudes and behaviours of perpetrators.

"What really hurts victims is when they try to tell someone what’s happening, the same prejudices and excuses are reiterated: 'yes, of course they shouldn’t hit you but let’s be honest if you look like that you are bringing it on yourself'."

The foundation commissioned academics and hate crime experts from the National Police Chiefs’ Council, the Centre for Hate Studies at the University of Leicester, the University of Plymouth, the University of Surrey and from Stop Hate UK as part of the survey, which ran from June to December last year.

A spokesman added: "Sixteen years after Sophie died, we still get emails and calls every week about bullying, harassment and assaults.

"Parents write in to say, 'I’m worried my child is going to be another Sophie'. We created a steering group with top academics and hate crime experts to gather empirical data showing the true effects of hate crime on the alternative community.

"The Law Commission stated in their Hate Crime Review, published in December 2021, that there was no evidence that people from alternative subcultures were being targeted for hate crime and there was no need to extend protection this this group.

"Well, the evidence is here."