PEOPLE who choose to live an alternative lifestyle have been included in a new hate crime strategy for the first time.

A hate crime is any offence motivated by hatred, hostility or prejudice towards someone based on what people believe makes others different.

West Mercia Police will ensure every person has the same right to their beliefs, lifestyle and appearance as anyone else, without fear, anxiety or any other consequence of hate crime.

Groups such as goths, punks and emos have been included for the first time and the strategy aims to reduce the harm caused by hatred, focusing on the victim and effectively targeting those who cause harm.

Victims will be fully supported and their complaint will be fully and fairly investigated.

A service level agreement with the West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service states victims of hate crime will not be treated any differently when they report a crime regardless of their race, gender, class, gender identity, culture, disability, sexuality, age or religious belief.

David Shaw, Chief Constable for West Mercia Police said, “"This demonstrates our commitment to supporting those who are threatened or become victims of crime simply because of who they are or how they chose to live their lives.

"The force is ready to step up to the challenge of ensuring that we do even more to protect those who are vulnerable and to tackle those who seek to cause harm to others and I therefore wholeheartedly welcome this new plan.”

The hate crime strategy is fully supported by both the chief constables of Warwickshire Police and West Mercia Police and by the Police and Crime Commissioners for both force areas.