Attacks on goths and punks could be considered hate crimes.

Sussex Police could add people with “alternative lifestyles” to their lists of vulnerable groups.

The force’s current policy is to record attacks on members of the Les- bian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) and Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) communities and those with disabilities as hate crimes, but at a meeting of the county’s Hate Crime Forum it was decided to add groups such as goths, punks and emos to the list.

Sussex Police said in a statement: “There are many other groups in our society who have been targeted for hostility and crime.

"It is vital that the concentration on the monitored areas is not used to deny the existence of other hate crimes.

Hostility or prejudice

"We are therefore currently developing plans for a sixth strand of ‘alternative lifestyle’ hate crime for Sussex, for any other incident where the perpetrator’s hostility or prejudice against a person’s identifiable alternative lifestyle is believed to be a factor in determining who is victimised.”

Following the death in 2007 of 20- year-old Sophie Lancaster, who was attacked for being a goth, The Sophie Lancaster Foundation was set up to campaign against such crime.

Music journalist Simon Price, of Brighton, who used to be a goth, spoke out against the attacks on goths.

He said Brighton was “quite civilised” but had been abused for the way he dressed. A few months ago he was in one of Brighton’s biggest pub venues for goths.

He added: “The pub was attacked by a bunch of lager louts. “I am sure this was simply due to the pub being a goth pub.”

The change in definition will not make any difference to the sentencing powers of courts dealing with offences and the Ministry of Justice said it would not have any impact.

Sussex police and crime commissioner Katy Bourne said: “I welcome the debate around the definition of hate crime that includes the consideration of other groups in vulnerable situations, e.g. the elderly.

"I support anything that helps officers identify hate crimes more accurately and take appropriate action.

“Public confidence is one of the key priorities within my police and crime plan Safer in Sussex.

“In order to demonstrate public confidence I have set a specific target within the plan to increase the reporting of hate crimes and I will be working closely with Sussex police and our partners to implement strategies that encourage this.”