7 Apr 2013

Paris Brown says tweets were ‘idiotic’

A teenager, who was appointed as Britain’s first youth police and crime commissioner, apologises after a series of offensive tweets which have led to calls for her resignation.

Paris Brown, 17, wrote violent, racist and anti-gay comments on her feed before she became the first youth PCC for Kent to represent young people’s views on policing.

The tweets, which included references to taking drugs, were posted by the teenager from the ages of 14 to 16, but have now been deleted.

There were calls for Miss Brown, from Sheerness, Kent, to resign from her £15,000-a-year post she was appointed to last week, but Kent Police and local Crime Commissioner Ann Barnes has defended her.

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

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, but I can’t imagine that I’m the only teenager to have done this.

“Just as one example, the line about ‘Hash Brownies’ is a reference to a Scooby Doo film.

“I have a genuine interest in working with young people, as demonstrated by my current work as an apprentice for a local authority helping teenagers in a local community.”

Video: Watch Paris Brown's extended interview with Fatima Manji
Tweets: they are public and permanent

What's happening to Paris Brown happens to dozens of young people every day of the week, writes social media expert @colinkelly.

What she's said in the past, on social media, and perhaps will now claim she didn't even really mean, is being used against her and could stop her getting a job, or making progress in her life.

Tweets are random bits of chat. Throwaway thoughts and snippets with no context (and often no thought) behind them. But they're public and permanent.

It's time people of all ages realised saying something on Twitter is not you having a fun little rant into the wilderness. It's a public space where people are waiting, watching and screen capturing everything you say.

Here's a good rule of thumb: Would you be happy wearing the contents of the Tweet you're about to send on a t-shirt for the rest of your life? No? Well think very carefully before sending it.

‘A difficult time’

Mrs Barnes said in a statement that she did not condone the nature of the tweets but asked for some perspective due to Miss Brown’s age.

“I absolutely do not condone the content and language of Paris’s tweets,” she said.

“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.

“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’d live in a very odd world.

“Thousands of people have already seen and heard this young lady articulate her ideas and been impressed by her maturity and her commitment during challenging interviews on the national and local media before this story broke.

“She has said herself that young people grow up very quickly these days and it’s often difficult for them. This is a very difficult time for her personally, but she will learn quickly from this and rapidly mature into the confident young person we are already seeing.”