Campaign bites back against loan sharks

Loan Sharks community pledge signing at South Fens Business Centre, Chatteris. Inspector Alan Boughen signing the pledge.Picture: Steve Williams. Loan Sharks community pledge signing at South Fens Business Centre, Chatteris. Inspector Alan Boughen signing the pledge.Picture: Steve Williams.

Thursday, May 1, 2014
10:28 AM

Loan sharks beware - seven Fen organisations teamed up to help combat the menace posed by illegal money lenders.

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Loan Sharks community pledge signing at South Fens Business Centre, Chatteris. Sid the Shark signing the pledge with Cllr David Oliver, onlooking. Picture: Steve Williams.Loan Sharks community pledge signing at South Fens Business Centre, Chatteris. Sid the Shark signing the pledge with Cllr David Oliver, onlooking. Picture: Steve Williams.

A signing ceremony launched three days of activities in Chatteris aimed at raising people’s awareness of the dangers posed by illegal moneylenders, encouraging victims to report the crime and informing them where they can get help.

A charter was signed pledging their support for a national campaign organised by the England Illegal Money Lending Team.

Loan sharks prey on some of the most vulnerable people in society and often charge huge interest rates – the highest seen is 131,000 per cent APR.

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Loan Sharks community pledge signing at South Fens Business Centre, Chatteris. Left: Olena Batista, Circle housing.Police Inspector Alan Boughen. Nick Blencowe Rural Cambs citizen advice. Liz Stanard, Making money count. Elaine Mathews Camms county council; supporting business and commerce. Cllr Peter Murphy, Cllr David Oliver. Picture: Steve Williams.Loan Sharks community pledge signing at South Fens Business Centre, Chatteris. Left: Olena Batista, Circle housing.Police Inspector Alan Boughen. Nick Blencowe Rural Cambs citizen advice. Liz Stanard, Making money count. Elaine Mathews Camms county council; supporting business and commerce. Cllr Peter Murphy, Cllr David Oliver. Picture: Steve Williams.

Elaine Matthews, Supporting Communities Manager from Cambridgeshire County Council’s trading standards team, said: “We are fully behind this campaign and hope it sends a clear message to loan sharks that their actions will not be tolerated and that we will do all in our power to bring them to justice.

“Illegal moneylending is a crime. These lenders may appear to be offering a community service but borrowers are forced to pay back way over what they can afford, often through threats of violence.”

The campaign in Chatteris has the backing of Fenland District Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, Chatteris Town Council, the Rural Cambridgeshire Citizens Advice Bureau, Making Money Count, Circle Housing (Roddons) and Cambridgeshire Constabulary.

Sid the Shark, the campaign mascot, is out and about in the town greeting children and parents outside Kingsfield and Glebelands primary schools. Both primary schools have been provided with an education pack containing a range of activities and lesson plans suitable for use in various different lessons. Cromwell Community College has a similar pack designed for secondary school students.

Tony Quigley, head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Loan sharks cause nothing but misery in our communities. We are continuing to crack down on offenders and bring them to justice through the courts, but it is important we also send a preventative message, so that individuals and families at risk do not fall in to this trap. “

Anyone who has been the victim of a loan shark, or knows of someone who has, can call 0300 555 2222. Lines are open 24/7 and callers can remain anonymous.

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