Police in Manchester have become the first force to record attacks on members of sub-cultures such as goths and emos as hate crimes.

Previously hate crimes were only recorded for offences against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity. However the changes will now recognise crimes against people from alternative groups such as "goths, emos, punks and metallers" in the same way.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) said the changes will enable officers to provide better support to people from sub-cultures who have experienced attacks from the public.

The move comes in response of the death of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, who was fatally attacked in a park in Manchester in 2007 because she was a goth. Her boyfriend Robert Maltby was also badly beaten because of the way he was dressed.

After her death, family and friends of the 20-year-old set up the Sophie Lancaster Foundation, which has been working with GMP to recognise attacks against sub-cultures as a sixth strand of hate crime.

Police have described the changes as a "major breakthrough".

Assistant chief constable Garry Shewan said: "People who wish to express their alternative sub-culture identity freely should not have to tolerate hate crime

"This means that we can recognise the impact that alternative sub-culture hate crime has on its victims and the wider community.

"Any crime motivated by hate is an insidious and evil crime and I hope other forces will follow our lead.

"We need to make a stance here and say clearly, in memory of Sophie, protecting the victims of hate crime should extend beyond those the law already safeguards."

Sylvia Lancaster, the mother of the 20-year-old who helped set up the foundation, said: "It is a very proud day for me personally and the rest of the team.

"It is a validation of the work we have undertaken in the past five years and hopefully other forces will follow GMP's lead.

"A big thank you to Greater Manchester Police and all our supporters."

GMP say they recognise the term "alternative subculture" as a group with a sense of collective identity and a set of group-specific values and tastes, typically centred around clothing, make up, body art and tattoos and music preference.

Ryan Herbert and Brendan Harris were jailed for life in 2008 for the murder of Lancaster and for causing grievous bodily harm to Maltby.