Competition aims to raise awareness of subculture hate crimes

Sophie Lancaster

Sophie Lancaster

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A Dragons Den-style police-run competition which aims to increase awareness among secondary school pupils about prejudice and intolerance towards people from alternative subcultures is being launched.

The County Schools Challenge, which is in its fourth year, will ask students to think creatively to create a product that has a single function or purpose which raises awareness and can help to reduce such forms of hate crime.

The theme this year has been inspired by the tragic death of Sophie Lancaster who was kicked to death at the age of 20 in a park in Lancashire in 2007 after being targeted because of the way she was dressed.

Sophie’s mother, Sylvia Lancaster, launched a charity called the Sophie Lancaster Foundation as a lasting legacy in memory of her daughter. The object was to highlight the problem of prejudice and intolerance towards people from alternative subcultures.

The winning entry from each school will be invited to showcase their projects in front of a distinguished panel of judges at the county final being held at the Lighthouse theatre in Kettering on July 4.

Superintendent Gary Ashton said: “The goal is to find a solution to the problem of prejudice and intolerance towards people from alternative subcultures and to increase awareness of the issue in the community.”

The County Schools Challenge is a joint project between Northamptonshire Police, Northamptonshire Education, Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership, Crimestoppers and the Arson Task Force with support from Sophie’s mother and the Sophie Lancaster Foundation.

A sub-culture is a group of people who follow an alternative lifestyle, who may look differently or dress or present themselves in a unique way to express their individuality.

Mrs Lancaster said: “The schools challenge is a very exciting and engaging way for students in Northamptonshire to develop ways of raising awareness of the serious issue of, the often violent prejudice faced by people from alternative subcultures, people like Sophie.”

More information about the foundation and the valuable work they do can be found by visiting the website at www.sophielancasterfoundation.com.