Of all the gifts Kate Moss has brought to her neighbours in north London – a rise in house prices, late-night partying, fading rockers – none has been welcomed as warmly as the latest: safer streets.
Residents of St John's Wood are thanking the supermodel's star quality for heightened security in their area, located in the borough of Camden, as swarms of paparazzi and bodyguards, combined with a beefed-up police presence, help reassure residents following a spate of horrific crimes.
Insisting that Moss's fame is helping to ward-off would-be criminals, locals are keen to come to the fashion icon's defence. "There's no question that the police presence is both bigger and more visible now that Kate's a local," said Alan Lydon, 55.
"People who have lived here for a long time are very conscious that we suddenly have a few uninvited guests. When she first moved it in proved a bit of a nuisance, because you could hardly walk down the streets without bumping into photographers. Now, though, we're delighted they're here. There are a lot of dimly lit, narrow streets around here, and it used to be very lonely and quiet by night.
"But now we've got clusters of paparazzi everywhere, and quite apart from the noise they make, all the flashing lights keep our streets well lit. Especially on the edges of small estates, that's very welcome".
Last week, the headless torso of a man was found behind bins less than a mile from Moss's property, the latest and most grisly in a string of attacks that have shocked the neighbourhood. But the arrival of Moss in St John's Wood has calmed the nerves of many.
"The paparazzi take it in turns to walk around the estates," said Fenella Gabriel. "It's like having a few dozen grown men perform neighbourhood watch – for free. They're perfectly nice, except for the cigarette stubs. And because they have cameras, if any layabouts are thinking of breaking the law, you know you've got trained camera operators ready to catch them out."
A perhaps unlikely standard-bearer of good community relations, Moss, 34, bought her new house for a reputed £8m at the end of last year. Last month she was reported to be planning a marathon 34-hour party to celebrate her birthday.
A few miles from the suburb of Primrose Hill, the glamorous cover girl remains within walking distance of her friends Sadie Frost and Davinia Taylor. Together with the actors Jude Law and Rhys Ifans, her pals have been described as the "Primrose Hill set".
At her current rate, however, the affection of some of Moss's less-well-heeled neighbours might soon outweigh those of her famous friends. "When she first moved in it was hell – my balcony was full of paparazzi and reporters were going door to door offering money for stories," one told the Camden New Journal. "But now she has been here three weeks, car crime has stopped... There are even fewer traffic wardens, too."Reuse content