This blog is mainly about the governance and future of policing and crime services. (Police & Crime Commissioners feature quite a lot.) But there are also posts about the wider justice system. And because I am town councillor and political activist, local & national issues are covered a little, as well.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Paris Brown: Youth Police & Crime Commissioner

The Daily Mail have gone for jugular again this morning:

Increasingly the Daily Mail / Mail on Sunday can be relied upon to help the citizens of Oceania/UK express their two minutes of hate everyday. They did this earlier in the week by linking the tragic manslaughter of six small children to almost everyone who claims benefits in this country. And a few months ago, their columnist Richard Littlejohn decided to take a potshot at primary school teacher who had decided to change gender. The teacher, Lucy Meadows, committed suicide not long after. Remember, this is the same Mr Littlejohn who used the occasion of two children and their auntie dying on Christmas day to have a rant about how long the emergency services close motorways when there are accidents in which people have been hurt and possible scenes of crime to investigate.

But this column is not about the Daily Mail or its readers (and I fear to read the comments that have been posted under the article above). Instead I want to focus on Paris and the role to which she has just been appointed. Here are some facts:
  • She is 17: she is a girl. (And so I hope all those who are pouring scorn on her this morning remember this). Indeed it was her birthday on 4/4/13... she is only just 17
  • She was appointed after a rigorous selection process which sifted out the other 163 applicants
  • Her job will last for a year with a package of £15,000 part funded by the Police & Crime Commissioner’s salary
  • Paris is expected to take up the role in the summer (so she is not yet even in post)
  • She currently works for Swale Borough Council as an apprentice within the Commissioning and Open Spaces department
  • Ann Barnes, Kent Police and Crime Commissioner said: ‘I’m delighted that Paris will be working alongside me to build a bridge between the world of young people and policing..."
  • She is just 17!
I understand that her personal twitter account which featured the intemperate tweets has now been deleted.
  • Were some of tweets unwise? Yes. 
  • Do these tweets mean that she is a homophobic racist with a drink & drug problem? No. 
  • Does she represent many girls of her age in the language that she uses? Probably yes (although I don't follow the tweets of 16/17 year old girls)
  • Should a bit of vetting and social media pruning happened before her appointment was confirmed and announced? Certainly so (and hindsight is a wonderful thing)
  • Will she learn from all this and be growing up quickly this weekend? I think so, and I hope she has bags of support from her friends, family and now employer.
  • Will the county of Kent and the rest of the UK give her chance to make a difference to policing and crime services? I really hope so!
I understand that there are many people out there who feel let down, who feel the image of policing has been tarnished and indeed that the reputation of young people themselves has not been helped.

But I urge people to cut her a bit of slack (to repeat again: she is just 17), let her learn from this and then give her a chance (with support from Ann and others in the Kent PCC's office) to do her job - and do it well.

UPDATE: "I do regret it" Paris talks about her tweets to Channel 4 News

UPDATE 2: What I learnt over the weekend.


  1. Anonymous7/4/13 12:42

    "let her learn from this and then give her a chance (with support from Ann and others in the Kent PCC's office) to do her job - and do it well."

    And what have the residents of Kent seen that are to assure them that she is able to do her job (whatever that may be) well?
    All we have seen is that she's a depressingly average, immature teenager.
    Why SHOULD we cut her some slack? Just because she's young? Ok - that's what school is for. School is where you fail and make mistakes safely; not public office.

    Stop being so goddamn soft. That;s how we ended up in the position of having kids like this anyway.

    1. Tell me - what have the residents of Kent see so far? Has she even begun work? No. If she was appointed from a field of 164, I assume she must have something to offer. I am prepared to wait and see - and judge her on her actions & results. I prefer not to launch into hyperbole. Soft? Maybe. Supportive? Definitely. Give people the benefit of the doubt? Almost always.

  2. Which tweets in particular allow you to make that rock solid inference?

  3. Anonymous7/4/13 14:51

    i'm sorry, but 'just 17' ?! is that seriously a defence? you're old enough at that age to know what is right and what is wrong. to say otherwise is just an insult to young people. not only is she stupid enough to have those views, she was stupid enough to make them public and immortalise them on the world wide web. & of course she regrets it. she's hardly going to say 'don't regret a thing, i stand by my disgusting statements!'

    1. I think there is an issue of volume, regularity, context, (sobriety even) to interpret these tweets. And having seen her speak with Channel 4 News - I think her apology was heartfelt and authentic. But I do not know her and I am less inclined that you appear to be - to judge her on the basis of some scant evidence. But, 'anonymous', she has had to courage to own up and say sorry.

      Based on what she said on the VT - I think she certainly does look back at what she did as stupid. But I guess that is part of growing up.

      Have you ever done anything that you regret or look back on now as stupid?

      I know I have.

    2. Anonymous7/4/13 15:37

      there is stupid and then there is that. at the age of 17 i can 110% say that neither myself nor any of my friends would have posted such heinous statements online. it would honestly never have crossed our minds. additionally, she posted these tweets relatively recently. her views and behaviour have not suddenly undergone a major transformation in the space of a few months. as such, she should not hold this position! there are 17 year olds out there who understand what it is to be a decent individual and how to express themselves publicly. she is not one of them.

      furthermore, 'scant evidence' ? these are statements posted by her. that's not 'scant evidence' - they do show the kind of person she is, the views she holds and the manner in which she feels is acceptable to present them.

    3. scant - in that twitter is not all of her life - and I assume she has done many other things that made her application stand out.

      I am not so sure that twitter always shows what sort of person you are - people often say stupid things on social media that they later regret. I prefer to see a whole person. I don't think there is enough evidence to condemn her in quite the ways that you seem to want to.

      I am glad that you would not have posted in such a way when you were 17 - or are you 17 still?

      And 'heinous' - utterly odious or wicked. Synonyms
      abominable - hideous - odious - atrocious - abhorrent... really? I think you are being unfairly over the top.

      And I would say that if you stand by all the points you are making - do please post with your full name.

    4. Anonymous7/4/13 16:12

      i'm not posting with my real name, because i'm completely aware of how careful you have to be on the internet with your identity, especially when putting forward your views. my name has nothing to do with the validity of my views and is not relevant.

      i'm now 24, but i can remember being 17 as it doesn't actually feel that long ago. and i know that this girl does not represent the majority of young people and to say that she does is frankly insulting. her statements were heinous. they advocated the use of drugs, of alcohol abuse, homophobia, racism and they did so with absolute ease.

      & i'm sure she has done other things which made her application stand out and yes, this should be recognised. but they do not cancel this out. it can't be argued that this girl has done decent things in her life so this makes her current situation more acceptable.

      i'm not a daily mail reader, i find the paper itself to be a disgrace, however i completely believe that people should treat others the way in which they'd like to be treated themselves. & this girl has by own admission admitted that she can be anti-social, racist, homophobic and embarrassing. yes, whilst intoxicated, but i've yet to meet a nasty drunk who is a decent person when sober. she should resign and this should be a lesson to all young people not that's it's acceptable to have these views as a public apology will make everything okay, but rather that these views will not be tolerated in the first place.

    5. There is of course something deeply ironic about your statement "i'm not posting with my real name, because i'm completely aware of how careful you have to be on the internet with your identity, especially when putting forward your views" in this context...

      I thought you might wish to stand by your views - as I do. But hey ho.

      I am still not sure that her use of racist and homophobic (etc.) language makes her racist and homophobic. All I am saying - all along - is that she made some highly inappropriate tweets - but that should not condemn her. I appreciate your views - I happen not to agree. Maybe I am just a little more forgiving...?

      You say "she should resign and this should be a lesson to all young people not that's it's acceptable to have these views". Are you sure you are 24?

    6. Just as one PCC cannot represent all of Kent (or Thames Valley, or Warwickshire etc) then neither can one young woman represent all young people in Kent. I am hoping that one of her tasks will be to reach out to the many young people in that county, listen to their views and do what she can to channel those back into the melting pot.

      You jump to many conclusions such as suggesting she is narcissistic. So she tweets a photo of herself tweeting a photo... that is not much evidence. She will have been growing up fast this weekend - how many young people have had to do that in so short a time...? Maybe I am wrong but I think and hope she will emerge a far wiser young woman next week.

      I was not commenting on a typo but more the "this should be a lesson to all young people" comment - you did not sound like a 24 year old. To me - that comment sounded more like a 74 year old retired army colonel!!

      But as I say, I am forgiving of most people...

  4. Anonymous7/4/13 15:17

    I agree with most of your comments Jon. Sadly unlike Paris few of our political leaders or Newspaper editors do understand why the word Sorry is a good place to start following shameful actions. In the case of Paris it will take time for her to show if her words are genuine or merely a placebo. However if we are waiting for commentators such as Richard Littlejohn and papers such as the DM or MOS to follow suit, I suspect we will need to be very patient!

  5. Just to point out she was actually 14/15 when she posted those tweets. Not 17. You can't spend the rest of your life being punished for things you did as a kid. Well, of course, you can - as the Mail and its fellow bandwagon-jumpers are making abundantly clear - but you shouldn't have to.

    1. I suspect that if many older people had undergone the scrutiny that this young woman has had over the weekend - they would have crumbled. I hope she is OK and she is able to move on past this firestorm of criticism.

      Thanks for your comment Emily and adding to this story.

  6. Anonymous8/4/13 06:27

    On her BBC1 interview, she seemed more excited about her wage packet and being on TV, than the actual job at hand.
    Sure young people make mistakes but there are plenty of other young people who are far more deserving and suitable for the roll.