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Barnes urged to 'consider position'

Police and crime commissioner Ann Barnes has been urged to "consider her position" after the youth crime tsar she appointed just three months ago was temporarily suspended following allegations she had a relationship with a married former councillor.

Kerry Boyd became the Kent youth crime commissioner in March after her predecessor Paris Brown, then 17, resigned over offensive comments she made on Twitter.

The 20-year-old former London 2012 torchbearer is reported to have had a close friendship with former councillor Kent County Councillor Robert Burgess.

Mrs Barnes will face the Kent Police and Crime Panel at 9am tomorrow to discuss the allegations surrounding Miss Boyd, and to talk about a Channel 4 fly-on-the-wall documentary, Meet The Commissioner, which aired last week.

Mrs Barnes has been accused by the Kent Police Federation of making the force a "laughing stock" after ignoring advice not to go ahead with the show.

Councillor Tony Martin, from the Kent Police and Crime Panel, said: "The general worry I have got is that it's not the first time it has happened with Ann Barnes. We were assured last time that this would not happen again.

"It's something on the back of an unflattering TV documentary last week which is reinforcing the lack of focus and detail in the office. That's a worrying trend.

Asked whether Mrs Barnes position had become untenable, Mr Martin said: "I do think she should be considering her position and I am sure she will be looking at herself very closely but I am very conscious of the fact I have not heard her side of the story.

"Obviously with the youth commissioner incident, I am conscious of the fact there could be legal conditions to it.

"No doubt we will get some legal advice as to whether we can question her on it but I would expect members to be briefed tomorrow on exactly what has happened."

A spokeswoman for Mrs Barnes said the commissioner was "supporting Kerry at this difficult time".

The spokeswoman said: "We are concerned that Kerry did not feel able to disclose the full extent of her personal circumstances earlier but as further enquiries are taking place it would be inappropriate for us to comment further.

"As part of our support for Kerry, she is not undertaking any public engagements for the time being."

Electrical engineer Mr Burgess, who represented Margate West from 2005 to 2013 and is a former technology teacher, told The Sun newspaper he has been "very close" with Miss Boyd for a good few months.

He said: "I have helped her with her work and she has helped with mine. She won't contact me.

"She is obviously quite upset by all the allegations and stuff going on.

"She is a dear friend. I care about what happens to her. If she lost her job because of a friendship with me, that would be a shame. I am devastated.

"I care for her a lot."

Miss Boyd started part-time as Kent youth commissioner before taking up the £15,000 a-year post full-time.

The former head girl said she did not hesitate in accepting the role despite the exposure it would bring her.

Despite the controversy over Miss Brown's use of social media, Miss Boyd said she intended to be visible "both online and offline".

Mrs Barnes said there was "no problem" with Miss Boyd's checks as it emerged that all her social media accounts were vetted before she was shortlisted and again afterwards.

She said Miss Boyd, who has taken a gap year from her degree in education studies and business studies at Canterbury Christ Church University, stood out from a strong band of competitors and was confident she would do a good job.

This is the latest controversy to hit Mrs Barnes who was accused last week of damaging the reputation of Kent Police force following the Channel 4 documentary.

Mrs Barnes, who travels around in a van she dubs "Ann Force 1", struggled to explain what her £85,000-a-year role involved and was filmed having difficulty explaining an approach to policing priorities called "the onion".

She also failed to write her title correctly on a whiteboard, was filmed painting her "flaky" nails and compared the force to a tin of paint that she wanted to "prise" open.

Ian Pointon, chairman of Kent Police Federation, said he had watched the show twice with a mixture of laughter, embarrassment, shock and disbelief.

He said: "To be frank, it was a disaster and Mrs Barnes was ill-advised to do this fly-on-the-wall documentary.

"I know she was advised by Kent Police not to do it, so any responsibility must lie elsewhere. It was always going to end this way, with a mockumentary." Following the programme, further indignity was piled on Mrs Barnes when a light aircraft circled above Kent Police HQ in Maidstone with a banner urging her to quit.


From Belfast Telegraph