Louise Casey CB (born 29 March 1965) is a British government official working in social welfare. She worked as deputy director of Shelter in 1992, the head of the Rough Sleepers' Unit (RSU) in 1999, the Director of the national Anti-Social Behaviour Unit (ASBU) in 2003, the head of the Respect Task Force in 2005, and the first Victims' Commissioner of the United Kingdom in March 2010. She became Director General, Troubled Families on 1 November 2011. She is known for being outspoken.
Early life and career
Casey grew up in Portsmouth, and began her career with the Department of Health and Social Security (DHSS), administering the benefit payments of homeless people. After this she worked for St Mungo Association, a charity whose goal is to help homeless people, then became director of the Homeless Network in London, before becoming deputy director of Shelter in 1992. It was with Shelter that she "made her mark", gaining a "reputation as an ambitious, pragmatic worker who got results", according to BBC News. She was largely responsible for the creation in 1998 of Shelterline, the country's first 24-hour telephone helpline for homeless people.
Rough Sleepers' Unit
Following their election victory in 1997, in December that year the new Labour government created the Social Exclusion Unit (SEU), which made tackling rough sleeping one of its priorities. In April 1999 the RSU was created and Casey appointed by Prime Minister Tony Blair as its head, referred to in the media as the "homelessness czar". With an eventual budget of £200 million, the RSU's aim was to reduce the number of rough sleepers in England by two-thirds by April 2002. The RSU published its strategy in December 1999. Casey caused controversy in November 1999 when she said the activities of some charities had the effect of keeping homeless people on the streets: "With soup runs and other kinds of charity help, well-meaning people are spending money servicing the problem on the streets and keeping it there. Even the Big Issue is perpetuating the problem." The editor of The Big Issue criticised the comments. In November 2000 the government launched the RSU-led "Change a Life" campaign, which encouraged people to give money to homelessness charities instead of to beggars, following research suggesting that 86 percent of beggars used drugs. Casey said giving money to beggars was "misplaced goodwill". The donations hotline set up as part of the campaign was closed in March 2002, having collected £10,000, despite advertising spending of £240,000. The RSU achieved its target in November 2001, several months before the deadline, but allegations were made that they had used underhand tactics; Casey responded that they were false. With her work at the RSU finished, she became director of the newly created Homelessness Directorate.
Anti-Social Behaviour Unit
In January 2003 Casey became head of the ASBU at the Home Office. Introduced in 1998, an Anti-Social Behaviour Order is a civil order made against a person who has been shown, on the balance of evidence, to have engaged in anti-social behaviour. During an after-dinner speech at a private (Home Office / ACPO) function in June 2005, she said that ministers would perform better if they were 'pissed' and, "doing things sober is no way to get things done". She also said: "There is an obsession with evidence-based policy. If No 10 says bloody evidence-based policy to me one more time I'll deck them one and probably get unemployed." The remarks, defended by the Prime Minister's office, led to an inquiry, after which Casey, having apologised, was allowed to keep her job. Over 19,000 ASBOs were issued but English breech rates peaked at ~70%. The ASBO did not protect the public, it's main justification. It was also discovered that ~60% of those taken to court had a diagnosed mental health condition and justice experts expressed concerns that ASBOs simply fast tracked youngsters into the criminal justice system and a life of crime. Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire, quickly abandoned the ASBO for these reasons. The Coalition ended the ASBO but introduced the potentially more damaging 'Injunction to Prevent Nuisance and Annoyance' which was strongly challenged in the Lords (The ASBO Gestapo, Green Man Books, 2014; ISBN 978-1502517982).
Respect Task Force; crime adviser
In September 2005 Casey was appointed head of the Respect Task Force as part of Blair's "respect agenda", becoming known as the "respect czar". The Respect Action Plan, launched in January 2006, was designed to deal with anti-social behaviour and problematic young people and families. In December 2007 the task force was closed down, and Casey moved to another job involving community policing. In 2008 her review of "Engaging Communities in Fighting Crime" was published, based largely on her contact with the public. In June 2008 she was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. She recommended the requirement, introduced in December 2008, that offenders doing community work should wear fluorescent orange jackets with the words "community payback" printed on the backs. In October 2009, while working as the government's neighbourhood crime adviser, Casey said that the justice system favoured criminals, and the public wanted a justice system that was not a "criminal's justice system".
On 30 March 2010 Casey was appointed to the post of Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses, created under the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004, whose job is to "promote the interests of victims and witnesses, encourage good practice in their treatment, and regularly review the Code of Practice for Victims which sets out the services victims can expect to receive". As Victims' Commissioner, she said crime victims were treated poorly by the system, and suggested jury trials were unnecessary for many lesser offences.
It was reported in September 2011 that Casey would work with Prime Minister David Cameron in dealing with the aftermath of the 2011 England riots, and she accordingly resigned from the position of Victims' Commissioner on 12 October 2011.
She became Director General, Troubled Families on 1 November 2011. The Troubled Families programme initially intends to change the repeating generational patterns of poor parenting, abuse, violence, drug use, anti-social behaviour and crime in the 120,000 most troubled families in the UK, with the government investing some £4,000 per family over 3 years, and each family having an assigned family worker. . Mental health problems are often found in such families.
By November 2013 some 22,000 families had been 'turned round', based on metrics such as child school attendance and crimes committed, although at least some of these families continue to commit some crimes.
Casey does not believe people undertake behaviours to gain benefits, and that compulsory contraception, whilst reducing the number of children being born into such families, would lead to high-risk teens finding "something else to get into trouble with. Because they've got trouble in their souls, trouble in their heart, troubles in their head. So even if you brought in some draconian thing like that, they'd find something else to do that would actually be an expression of not having enough love or of having too much pain." However Casey also told the Daily Telegraph (20.07.12)
'We are not running some cuddly social workers programme...we should be talking about things like shame and guilt...we have lost the ability to be judgmental because we worry about being seen as nasty to poor people'.
In June 2013 the UK government announced its intention to extend this intensive help to 400,000 more families, committing £200 million in funding in 2015 to 2016. It expects, for every £4,000 spent on a family, an annual saving of £15,000 in the costs of the police, health and social services in dealing with the family.
In March 2015 Casey and the Dept. for Communities & Local Government website claimed that 105,671 families of the 117,910 processed had been 'turned around',some 89.6%, saving £1.2 billion per annum although Casey had claimed that the TFP would save £9 billion per annum at the start of the scheme. According to the Dept. for Communities and Local Government website claims, each family before programme entry, cost £26,000 per annum. The TFP allegedly saved £11,200 per family implying that 56.9% of the original cost still remained although 89.6% of families had been 'turned around'. Also on 12.06.14, three years into the TFP, Casey had told a meeting of Reform that
'As hard as it is to accept, the truth is despite our best efforts over many years-and I include myself in that-we just haven't got it right. We just haven't succeeded in geting these familes to change or in stopping the transmission of problems from generation to generation-we just haven't'.
Following the publication of a report by Alexis Jay on the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, Casey was appointed by Eric Pickles to lead the inspection of the children's services at Rotherham council. The Guardian reported on 10 September 2014: In his written ministerial statement, Pickles says he has directed Casey to consider how the council exercised its functions on governance, children and young people, and taxi and private hire licensing.
Her report was published on 4 February 2015, and found that the local authority's child sexual exploitation (CSE) team was poorly directed, suffered from excessive case loads, and did not share information. The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, stated that the local authority was "not fit for purpose", and announced proposals to remove its control from the councillors and give it to a team of five appointed commissioners. Labour Party leader Ed Miliband said that his party had "let people down in Rotherham". However Casey's report was also heavily criticised by social work academics in Community Care (under Children, Comment, Rotherham abuse scandal), March 20, 2015 who said
'There are troubling aspects of the report...the process by which it was prepared, in particular the lack of rigor and transparency in the methods used to gather and analyse data...This gap [in methodology] ...should concern us as it goes to the heart of issues of accuracy...'
Honours and assessments
Casey was awarded the Companion of the Order of Bath (CB) in the Queen’s birthday honours list 2008.
- Casey, Louise. PDF (987 KB). Cabinet Office. June 2008. Accessed 6 September 2011.
- Batty, David (16 June 2008). "Profile: government crime adviser Louise Casey". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 27 August 2011.
- "Profile: Louise Casey". BBC News. 6 July 2005. Accessed 27 August 2011.
- Fairclough, Norman (2000). New Labour, New Language?. Routledge. p. 51.
- Noaks, Lesley; Wincup, Emma. (2004). Criminological Research: Understanding Qualitative Methods. SAGE Publications. p. 147.
- For Blair and staff, see: Chrystal, Robin. "Homelessness czar gets to work". BBC News. 15 December 1999. Accessed 30 August 2011.
- For budget, see: "Sleeping rough – The Homelessness Tsar answers your questions". BBC News. 22 August 2010. Accessed 30 August 2011.
- The RSU was originally created to deal with homelessness in London, and in September 1999 extended its activities to the rest of England. See: Cloke, Paul J; Milbourne, Paul; Widdowfield, Rebekah. (2002). Rural Homelessness: Issues, Experiences and Policy Responses. The Policy Press. p. 110.
- PDF (78.6 KB). communities.gov.uk. 16 December 1999. Accessed 8 September 2011. See webpage.
- "Charities 'promote homelessness'". BBC News. 14 November 1999. Accessed 30 August 2011.
- See also: Liddiard, Mark. "Homelessness". p. 126. In: May, Margaret; Page, Robert M; Brunsdon, Edward. (eds) (2001). Understanding Social Problems: Issues in Social Policy. Blackwell Publishers.
- Noaks, Lesley; Wincup, Emma. (2004). Criminological Research: Understanding Qualitative Methods. SAGE Publications. pp. 147–148.
- Summerskill, Ben; Newey, Guy. "Beggars hotline ditched as flop". The Guardian. 3 March 2002. Accessed 7 September 2011.
- Morrison, James; Seymenliyska, Elena. "Rough sleepers unit 'fiddled the figures'". The Independent. 23 December 2001. Accessed 30 August 2011.
- "Homelessness tsar". The Guardian. 20 December 2002. Accessed 6 September 2011.
- Walker, David. "Civil servant squares up to anti-social behaviour". The Guardian. 2 January 2003. Accessed 6 September 2011.
- Andalo, Debbie. "Asbo tsar faces investigation". The Guardian. 6 July 2005. Accessed 6 September 2011.
- Johnston, Philip. "She boasted about binge drinking and 'decking' officials in crude outburst. Now Blair promotes her to respect tsar". The Daily Telegraph. 3 September 2005. Accessed 8 September 2011.
- "Blair defends Asbo tsar's gaffe". BBC News. 6 July 2005. Accessed 6 September 2011.
- "Ins and outs". The Guardian. 7 September 2005. Accessed 6 September 2011.
- See also: Branigan, Tania. "'Deck 'em' adviser made head of respect drive by Blair and Clarke". The Guardian. 3 September 2005. Accessed 6 September 2011.
- "Respect action plan: At-a-glance". BBC News. Accessed 8 September 2011.
- Wintour, Patrick. "Blair's Respect agenda ditched, claim Tories". The Guardian. 24 December 2007. Accessed 6 September 2011.
- Pratt, John. "Penal excess and penal exceptionalism: welfare and imprisonment in Anglophone and Scandinavian societies". p. 264. In: Crawford, Adam (ed) (2011). International and Comparative Criminal Justice and Urban Governance: Convergence and Divergence in Global, National and Local Settings. Cambridge University Press.
- "TV entertainers head honours list". BBC News. 13 June 2008. Accessed 6 September 2011.
- Ford, Richard. "Offenders on community work projects will have to wear orange bibs". The Times. 27 November 2008. Accessed 8 September 2011.
- Ford, Richard. "Crime adviser says justice system is seen as ‘too sympathetic’ to criminals". The Times. 19 October 2009. Accessed 8 September 2011.
- Wintour, Patrick. "Louise Casey promoted to role of victims' commissioner". The Guardian. 30 March 2010. Accessed 8 September 2011.
- "Victims' Commissioner". justice.gov.uk Accessed 6 September 2011.
- See also: Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 – Commissioner for Victims and Witnesses. legislation.gov.uk. Accessed 6 September 2011.
- Casciani, Dominic. "Crime victims treated like the 'poor relation'". BBC News. 20 July 2010. Accessed 8 September 2011.
- "Cut jury trials, says victims' champion Louise Casey". BBC News. 3 November 2010. Accessed 8 September 2011.
- "Riots: Louise Casey – Blair's respect tsar – to aid PM". BBC News. 7 September 2011. Accessed 8 September 2011.
- "Louise Casey quits as Victims Commissioner" 12 October 2011. Accessed 12 October 2011.
- "Â£450m scheme for problem families to turn their lives around helps just 1,500 parents find work". Daily Mail (London).
- Wintour, Patrick (10 September 2014). "Louise Casey to conduct inspection of children's services in Rotherham". Guardian.
- Inspection into the governance of Rotherham Council
- BBC News, "Government in Rotherham Council takeover after abuse inquiry", 4 February 2015
- "Rotherham abuse scandal: Ed Miliband 'deeply sorry'". BBC News. 15 February 2015.
- BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour Power list