Britain’s first youth crime commissioner, Paris Brown, says she is stepping down from the role after it emerged she posted offensive messages on Twitter.
Ms Brown’s appointment, which she was due to start in the summer, was announced a week ago. The job was aimed at bridging the gap between the police and the youth.
However, on Sunday it emerged that she had posted a number of tweets, between the ages of 14 and 16, that included racist, violent and anti-gay comments.
I strongly reiterate that I am not racist or homophobic. I have fallen into the trap of behaving with bravado on social networking sites. Paris Brown
At a press conference on Tuesday Ms Brown said: “I have made the decision to decline the offer of the position of Kent youth police and crime commissioner. I have made this decision after a great deal of thought and consultation with my family.
“As I made clear over the weekend, I accept that I have made comments on social networking sites which have offended many people. I am really sorry for any offence caused.
“I strongly reiterate that I am not racist or homophobic. I have fallen into the trap of behaving with bravado on social networking sites. I hope this may stand as a learning experience for many other young people.
“I now feel that in the interests of everyone concerned, in particular the young people of Kent who I feel will benefit enormously from the role of a youth commissioner, that I should stand down as I feel that the recent media furore will continue and hamper my ability to perform the job to the level required.”
Ann Barnes, the Kent police and crime commissioner who appointed Ms Brown, said it was a “very sad day.”
“An enthusiastic woman with exceptional skills and a proven track record in working with young people has ended up in a position where she has turned down the job of a lifetime for her,” she said.
She added that Ms Brown had shown “moral courage” in facing up to the circumstances, and that this was a “true reflection of her character”.
Ms Barnes added that there had been calls for her won resignation, but that she was “not a quitter”.
Calls emerged on Sunday for the 17-year-old to resign from her £15,000 a year post. However, Ms Barnes defended Ms Brown, saying: “I absolutely do not condone the content and language of Paris’s 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.
“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.”
On Sunday Ms Brown apologised for the tweets, which also referenced drug taking. The tweets have been deleted.
She said: “I deeply apologise for any offence caused by my use of inappropriate language and for any inference of inappropriate views.
“..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.”