LOUISE Casey – the feisty government adviser known as the ‘neighbourhood crime czar/csar/tsar’ – was part of the secret government convoy to Camden last week. I say secret because it was kept strictly hush hush from the local papers.
In fact, nobody would have known that the Prime Minister and Home Secretary had danced through the Kiln Place estate in Gospel Oak together last week if it hadn’t been for a bit of digging by my colleagues and the CNJ’s front page reveal on Thursday.
We know that Casey was there as well because Downing Street – rather than speak to newspapers with thousands of readers in the neighbourhood – posted on its website a You-Tube style video of the visit. I bet none of you have watched it but if you want to see where the communications budget is being splurged, you can have a peep here. Pretty extravagant.
It’s interesting but ultimately numbing to see that Casey roars into action and does most of the speaking on the film even though the woman she is standing next to at the start of the video – Jackie Draper, a tenants leader on the estate – has far more interesting things to say. Ms Draper is a grandmother who stood up to the bullies plaguing her estate despite being threatened with knives and being set on fire, a worry story of intimidation on her own doorstep which I’m sure she would have been willing to share if she had been allowed to get a word in edgeways.
So, while Casey blusters away about how she wants tougher Asbos and Wild West wanted-style leaflets of offenders posted through people’s letterboxes – for a moment, you think she is about to advocate the return of rotten veg and the village stocks for anybody seen on a BMX – Downing Street’s camcorder guys either deliberately ignored or did not bother to ask what’s really been going on at Kiln Place. That’s kind of what happens if you breeze in and out like that.
Fast forward six days and Casey woke up this morning to find herself on the front of The Times and the headline ‘Crime czar blames Brown for growth of yob culture’. The PM must have been spluttering over his porridge oats to see that one. ‘How could you, Louise?’, he must have thought. ‘What about the good times? What about Kiln Place?’
UPDATED: Here’s Louise Casey grabbing centre stage on Downing Street TV. As I post it up, it’s been on YouTube for nearly a week and had a whopping 275 views..