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Ann Barnes 'has faith in Kent Police Youth Crime Commisioner role' after Paris Brown resigns

PUBLISHED: 17:33 09 April 2013 | UPDATED: 17:33 09 April 2013

Ann Barnes

Ann Barnes

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Ann Barnes says she has "complete faith" in the Kent Police Youth Commissioner role following the storm over comments Paris Brown made on Twitter which saw her quit less than a week after being appointed.

Ann Barnes says she has “complete faith” in the Kent Police Youth Commissioner role following the storm over comments Paris Brown made on Twitter which saw her quit less than a week after being appointed.

Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Mrs Barnes said she would be sticking with the role and the row has convinced her there is a “generation gap” where social media is involved.

The 17-year-old posted Tweets before she applied for the post using language such as “fag” and “illegals” while talking about getting drunk and taking drugs.

Mrs Barnes said: “This whole episode has made me think more than ever there is a place for a youth crime commissioner in Kent.

“We live in an internet world and people air views in a public domain. Sometimes what young people think is acceptable isn’t. Trawling social media history of a role of her level is not part of the recruitment process and maybe that is naïve.

“The recruitment process will be reviewed and there will be an independent enquiry launched before we look to fill the role.”

Miss Brown, of Sheerness, quit her £15,000 a year role following intense media scrutiny into the episode.

She read a statement in a press conference in Maidstone before leaving without answering questions, and the tweets could now be a subject of a Kent Police investigation after complaints were made by members of the public.

She said: “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.

“Finally, I ask for the time and space to recover from what has been a very difficult time and to allow me to move on.”

Mrs Barnes said the teenager did not disclose the tweets when asked if there was anything that could embarrass herself or the office during the interview process.

She said: “The possible police investigation is the straw that broke the camel’s back. I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this.

“I’m disappointed Paris won’t be able to take up her role because I’m sure she would have been fantastic and it would have been her dream job.

“She showed tremendous courage by facing the media on more than one occasion rather than hiding behind a press release – I didn’t ask her to do this.”

The crime commissioner disputed claims this puts her position in jeopardy, saying: “I take responsibility for what happens in my office. I’m not a quitter by nature and on this occasion it hasn’t worked out.

“There are always calls when things go wrong for you to front up but I’ll try to put things right and I won’t give up.

“The people of Kent will make their own minds at the next election.”

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