Brown and Barnes, photo courtesy of The Guardian, Philip Toscano/PA
Paris Brown, a 17 year old from Sheerness in Kent, was, until 9 April 2013, Britain’s first youth crime commissioner. She held the role for just over a week before resigning over tweets she posted when she was between 14 and 16 years old. The tweets are said to contain comments on drinking, drugs and sex, as well as derogatory terms such as “fag” and “pikey”. In a prepared statement, Brown apologised for the tweets, stating that she accepted having made comments which have offended many people. Confirming that she was not a racist or a homophobic, she said she had “fallen into the trap of behaving with bravado on social networking sites.”
Ann Barnes, the police and crime commissioner for Kent, confirmed that in recruiting Brown her Twitter account was not vetted. She also said she would be looking for another candidate to fulfil the youth role.
What is a youth crime commissioner?
Barnes suggests the role assists in reducing the gap between younger people and the authorities, particularly the police.
What next for Paris Brown?
The police will investigate the extend of the tweets and they and the Crown Prosecution Service will decide whether Brown has committed a criminal offence.
s.127 Communications Act:
This deals with the sending of improper messages, regardless of whether they are received.
Section 127(1)(a) relates to a messages that are grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character. This is usually charged in relation to indecent emails and telephone calls.
Section 127(2) relates to false messages and persistent misuse intended to cause annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety. This can include people who persistently make silent telephone calls.
Whilst she may have committed an offence under s.127 of the Communications Act, but this is a summary-only offence, which falls to be prosecuted within 6 months from the date of the alleged offence. In short, the police are too late to charge this.
CPS guidance on communications offences can be found here.
It should be noted that the tweets were sent before Brown was offered the post she has since resigned from. She was a teenager and some have looked upon her sympathetically, saying she was young an naive. In my view, she’s been rather foolish in her tweets, but in all likelihood never thought they would cause any harm. Haven’t we all said something we regretted when we were 14 years old? Surely being pushed into the limelight for this and feeling the need to resign is punishment enough?
We at UK Crime Blog would be interested to hear your views.