A storm has blown up following news that Britain's first youth police commissioner had previously posted a string of offensive comments on Twitter.
Paris Brown, 17, who took up the £15,000 one-year post with Kent Police just days ago, has "sincerely" apologised but refused to step down, saying she felt she could still do the job. This is in spite of widespread calls for her to step down, led by Keith Vaz MP, Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee. Mr Vaz is reported as saying "I am deeply shocked by these disclosures. Public money should never be given to anyone who refers to violence, sex, drunkenness and other anti-social behaviour in this offensive manner."
The messages in question – all posted before Miss Brown took up the post – were of a homophobic and racist nature. She refers to immigrants as "illegals" and gay people as "fags". In one tweet she says: "Im (sic) either really fun, friendly and inclusive when Im drunk or Im an anti social, racist, sexist, embarrassing a*******. often its the latter." Another said: "Been drinking since half 1 and riding baby walkers down the hall at work oh my god I have the best job ever haha!!" Yet another said "I really wanna make a batch of hash brownies." Another quoted her as saying she was pleased that her brother had thumped someone who "gave his tiny little friend a black eye".
"I don't want to be judged on tweets that were written a long time ago, before I found out I had the job," Miss Brown said. "I don't think it should affect my future, my career. I still want to be the voice of young people. I still think I can be. In a way it shows I am – those tweets are horrible obviously – but I am just a normal teenager. Everybody's got a regret, maybe it's a tweet, maybe it's a status but out of 4,000 tweets, there's only a few that have been picked up upon."
She has put doing her A-levels for a year to do the job, in which she reports to newly elected Kent Police and Crime Commissioner, Ann Barnes (shown here with her), who has said that Miss Brown's job is safe, saying: "I absolutely do not condone the content and language of Paris' tweets. I suspect that many young people go through a phase during which they make silly, often offensive comments and show off on Facebook and Twitter." She added "I think that if everyone's future was determined by what they wrote on social networking sites between the ages of 14 and 16, we would live in a very odd world."