Sussex Police are facing heavy criticism for their approach when dealing with teenagers who tweeted homophobic comments about a rival football club’s fans.

Three London teenagers aged between 15 and 16 were identified as the offenders, after they tweeted what was described as “vile and explicit” homophobic messages about Brighton and Hove Albion football supporters.

PC Darren Balkham, Sussex Police Football Liaison, said:

“We had one victim who was especially distressed by what was said and she said community resolution was the way to deal with this.

“The victim was a lady who had been bullied as a child. She was very upset by the homophobic tweets.

“Arresting them would leave them with a possible criminal record and maybe ruin their lives, all for the sake of complete ignorance and stupidity.”

Chris Cooke, Chairman of the LGBT Safety Forum criticised this reaction to the tweets: “We are supposed to be zero tolerance in this city but the police are clearly taking a softly-softly approach.

“If these had been racist messages then there would have been arrests rather than a slap on the wrist.”

Fans of Brighton and Hove recently spoke out to the FA, urging them to take homophobic chants more seriously at football games.

Not the first time Twitter has been used to these means, as footballer, Daniel Thomas, was arrested for tweeting a gay hate message to Tom Daley, Olympic diver. 

Last year, Tottenham Hotspur announced that their stewards would start to wear video cameras on their heads in order to monitor and prevent homophobic chants.