But now, people who are targeted because they are part of a sub-culture group like goths or emos are also included.

Superintendent Graeme Pallister, Crime Manager for Warwickshire and West Mercia Police said: “Hate crime is where people are unjustly treated because of what they are, not who they are.

“We live in a multi-cultural and diverse society and it is important that members of our community know that whatever group or culture they belong to, they have the same rights as everyone else to live their life as they choose and to live it whatever their religion, lifestyle, sexuality, gender, appearance, views or ability.

“No-one should suffer the indignity and the trauma of being a victim of crime through ignorant hatred of what they are.”

In recent years goths and other members of sub-cultures have been attacked because of the way they choose to dress, the make-up they choose to wear, or the music they choose to listen to.

The case of 20-year-old Sophie Lancaster, who died after being brutally attacked in Greater Manchester in 2007 for being a goth, has brought the issue in to the limelight.

When her killers were sentenced, the judge recognised her death as a hate crime.

Hate crime has many forms. It can be verbal abuse, insults or harassment, it can be offensive material such as posters and leaflets, or gestures and physical acts such as dumping rubbish outside a building or through the letterbox. It can also manifest as emotional or physical bullying at school or in the workplace.

Sup Int Pallister said: “It is equally important that people should know that if they are a victim of hate crime because of the group they are in or the views they have, they know that the police will listen and will treat them fairly and the issues they have experienced will be investigated.”

Do you class yourself as a goth, punk, or emo? Have you ever been targeted in South Warwickshire because of what you look like? E-mail mwilson@stratford-herald.com or call the newsdesk on 01789 412819.