Police investigate youth police and crime commissioner Paris Brown's 'inappropriate' tweets

 

Social media messages written by Britain's first youth police and crime commissioner are being investigated by the force that employs her, following complaints from the public.

Kent Police officers are to decide whether Paris Brown, 17, has committed any offences in writing apparently violent, racist and anti-gay comments on her Twitter feed.

The teenager, appointed to the £15,000-a-year role last week, posted the messages between the ages of 14 and 16 and has apologised for causing offence through what she described as her "use of inappropriate language".

Kent police and crime commissioner Ann Barnes has defended Miss Brown, stressing that her recruitment to the position - the first in the UK - was not a gimmick.

But last night, the force said: "Kent Police has today received a number of complaints about statements posted on social media. Kent Police officers are investigating circumstances to determine whether any offences have been committed."

Miss Brown, from Sheerness, Kent, has denied being homophobic, racist or violent and says she is against the taking of drugs, despite a reference on Twitter to making "hash brownies". The offensive tweets have now been deleted.

Mrs Barnes, 67, who is paying £5,000 of Miss Brown's salary from her own pay, said she did not condone the nature of the tweets but asked for some perspective due to Miss Brown's age.

She said the teenager was one of 164 applicants for the job, intended to provide young people's views on policing, and she was the best one and a "confident and articulate woman".

But she told BBC News that the teenager's Twitter account had not been vetted when they offered her the job.

"We went through a perfectly normal recruitment process and we had her vetted by the force," she said.

"Nobody normally looks through anybody's Twitter feed - perhaps that's a lesson for the future. We are living in a different world now."

A Kent Police spokeswoman said: "Kent Police undertakes varying levels of vetting and higher levels of vetting can include checks on a social media account."

In a statement on Sunday, Miss Brown said: "I deeply apologise for any offence caused by my use of inappropriate language and for any inference of inappropriate views.

"I am not homophobic, racist or violent and am against the taking of drugs.

"If I'm guilty of anything, it's showing off and wildly exaggerating on Twitter and I am very ashamed of myself."

Her appointment has been condemned in the light of the publication of the tweets.

South Thanet Conservative MP Laura Sandys said on Twitter: "Paris Brown should step down as youth crime tsar for Kent... Gimmicks always backfire."

Fellow Kent Tory MP Damian Collins also called for the teenager to go.

The member for Folkestone and Hythe said: "I do not think the role should have been created in the first place.

"I feel sorry for Paris Brown to be put in this position where there is such a high level of scrutiny about what she has said.

"She is going to be under constant pressure to explain what she meant and it's best that this young person should rebuild her life away from intense media scrutiny.

"I think that it's best if it would be Ann Barnes to take that decision herself and say that creating the post was a mistake."

PA

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss