Page last updated at 10:22 GMT, Wednesday, 6 July 2005 11:22 UK

Profile: Louise Casey

Louise Casey
Louise Casey: Always one to have an opinion
Louise Casey, the 38-year-old head of the Home Office anti-social behaviour unit who has been embroiled in a row over comments she made in an after-dinner speech, has never been one to mince her words.

Loud, big, brash and already known for her "shooting from the hip" style, she is well known for saying what she thinks.

She is now in trouble after being secretly recorded poking fun at the home secretary and Downing Street and claiming anti-binge drinking messages were "nonsense".

It is not the first time she has hit the headlines - in 1999, when she was homelessness czar, she sparked outrage by accusing many charities of "perpetuating homelessness" by giving free handouts to people on the streets.

She also condemned the culture of soup runs, saying it encouraged rough sleeping.

'Brave decision'?

And she reckoned the homeless were often given more expensive sleeping bags than those available in the shops.

At the time the blunt-speaking official even conceded that the government had been either "very brave or very stupid" by making that appointment.

She's blunt, she says what she thinks and she shoots from the hip
Shelter spokeswoman

Yet her fearless style, which like her after-dinner speech is often presented amid a cloud of expletives, does not seem to have done her career prospects any harm.

The prime minister is said to be a particular fan, and her star has, until now, certainly been in the ascendancy.

Ms Casey grew up in Portsmouth and wanting to leave home and gain independence, landed a job in a holiday camp.

Her professional career got going as an employee of the former Department of Health and Social Security dealing with benefit payments to homeless people.

Ambitious

Later she became co-ordinator of the St Mungo Association, managing the provision of services to single, homeless men.

This was followed by a directorship, taking charge of the Homeless Network, co-ordinating services to rough sleepers in central London.

But it was during her time spent as the deputy director of homeless charity Shelter that Ms Casey made her mark.

Joining in 1992, she quickly gained a reputation as an ambitious, pragmatic worker who got results.

One Shelter spokeswoman said at the time that Ms Casey had played a key-role in reshaping the charity, pushing through a number of innovations including Shelterline, a 24-hour phone help service.

Challenging times

"She's blunt, she says what she thinks and she shoots from the hip," the spokeswoman said.

"People tell her there are obstacles and she will tell them, ' I don't want to hear about obstacles, I want to hear what the problems are and I want to hear the solutions'.

"She doesn't believe in sacred cows, she just wants to know how to get from A to B."

From Shelter, she was given the job of director of the Homelessness Directorate at the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, a role she admitted was "a bloody big challenge".

In 2002 she was appointed head of the government's Anti-Social Behaviour Unit, with a brief to tackle yob culture.

At the weekend reports claimed Tony Blair had criticised Home Secretary Charles Clarke over a lack of action on the "respect agenda".

The prime minister was also said to have asked Ms Casey to report directly to him.

However, Downing Street insisted it was "absurd" to suggest Mr Blair was unhappy with Mr Clarke's handling of the issue.

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Hear Louise Casey's remarks caught on tape



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