The head of a police specials branch in the West Midlands has resigned after it was revealed that he had been using an official police Twitter account to send messages to gay men that were more suited for a personal account.

James Horton, 34, was the head of Dudley District Special Constabulary, and resigned on 17 January over the issue after over a decade of service.

West Midlands Police were made aware that Mr Horton’s constabulary Twitter account had been used to send messages to gay male Twitter users that were, according to a police statement, “against force policy”.

They referred Mr Horton to the Police Professional Standards Department, but he resigned before disciplinary proceedings could get underway.

Mr Horton received an award for long service in 2009, having worked voluntarily with the special constabulary for over a decade. As a Special Constable he headed a team of 60 volunteer officers.

In 2012, he was awarded the Chief Constable Award for Outstanding Contribution for his continued dedication to his post while battling blood cancer.

At the time, Dudley’s Chief Superintendent Stuart Johnson said: “James is dedicated to his role and has always undertaken his duties with professionalism and enthusiasm.

“He is highly regarded among the senior leadership team and respected by his colleagues.”

Mr Horton said after receiving the award: “I’ve always been enthusiastic for what I do.

“If you are going to volunteer for something you need to love doing it and everyday I’m encouraged and inspired by my team.”

In October, the former Assistant Chief Constable of West Midlands Police warned that the force could appear “out of touch and heavy-handed” over disciplinary measures taken against officers misusing social media.