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Biting Back at Loan Sharks

Durham PCC signs Loan Shark Charter

Ron Hogg with local Councillor and Dave Orford, Temporary Assistance Chief Constable

Biting Back at Loan Sharks

Durham Constabulary launched their campaign against loan sharks in Shotton Colliery last week.

The force in partnership with Durham County Council, Darlington Borough Council and the national Illegal Money Lending Team signed up to the ‘stopping loan sharks charter’ in Shotton Colliery on Monday morning.

The signing of the charter which marked the start of a week of action aimed at raising the awareness of loan sharks in Shotton Colliery took place at Shotton Colliery community centre. 

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford, Police & Crime Commissioner Ron Hogg and Durham County Councillor Eunice Huntington signed the Charter. 

The campaign launched on Monday 15th July and was aimed at encouraging people to turn away from loan sharks and to report the crime if they have been a victim.

A range of activities and events took place in Shotton Colliery following the launch last week, including:

  • Representatives from the Peterlee Neighbourhood Policing Team and the Illegal Money Lending Team, along with mascot Sid the Shark were out and about throughout Shotton Colliery offering information and advice.
  • Leaflets with the 0300 555 2222 hotline number for reporting loan sharks were handed out to parents at the gates of Shotton and Our Lady of Lourdes primary schools.
  • Posters, banners and other publicity material were displayed in the community including beer mats and posters on toilet doors in pubs, and posters on lampposts.
  • Training sessions were held for staff at East Durham Homes, officers from Durham Constabulary and other local agencies. The sessions aimed to provide a greater understanding of the dangers of loan sharks so they can let others know.
  • A community advocate session was held for welfare champions at East Durham Trust and any other members of the public who wished to find out more about loan sharking and how they can help raise awareness locally. The session took place at Community House, Yoden Road, Peterlee on Tuesday 16th June between 1.30pm and 3pm.
  • A coffee morning was held at Alcote House, Alcote Grove, Shotton Colliery between 10.30am and 11am on Tuesday 16th July for  people to drop in for information and advice.
  • Information and advice was provided at a mother and toddler group held at Shotton Community Centre on Wednesday 17th July between 9.30am and 11.30am
  • Home Housing will host a drop in session at Shotton Community Centre between10am and Midday on Thursday 18th July, handing out advice on avoiding loan sharks.
  • The illegal money lending team gave a presentation on the dangers of loan sharks at the PACT (Police and Communities Together) meeting held at Shotton Community Centre between 6pm and 7pm on Wednesday 17th July.
  • Advice was offered during the OAP lunch club held at Shotton Community Centre on Friday 18th July between 11am and 1pm.
  • Advice was offered during the Young Peoples Forum held at Shotton Community Centre on Monday 15th July between 7.30pm and 8pm.

The Team attended the Annual Festival held at Shotton Community Centre on Saturday 19th July.

For further information on any of the above events contact the Safer Neighbourhood Unit at Peterlee Police Office on 101.

An estimated 310,000 households across the country are in debt to a loan shark.

Detective Inspector Lyn Peart from the Specialist Crime Operations Unit said These criminals usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. As the debts can’t legally be enforced many lenders will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment including threats, violence and intimidation.”

Paperwork is rarely offered so victims are often in the dark as to how much they are actually paying. Exorbitant extra amounts and interest are added at random, the highest interest seen by an illegal lender was equivalent to a staggering 131,000% APR. In some cases the loan sharks have been known to take items as security including passports, driving licences or even bank or post office cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers’ accounts.

Praising the initiative, PCC Ron Hogg said: “I give my full support to this campaign which is an excellent example of how partners in communities, such as Shotton Colliery, can work together across the force area to stamp out fear and vulnerability caused by illegal loan sharks.”

Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford said “The message we want to get out there is simple; loan sharking is illegal and as a force we are committed to cracking down on loan sharks in partnership with other agencies. We not only want to warn people of the danger of loan sharks we want to offer support to those who may be vulnerable to getting involved with loan sharks. The signing of the charter sends out a clear message, loan sharking will not be tolerated across County Durham and Darlington. We want our communities to feel safe and confident and we hope the week of action in Shotton Colliery this week will contribute to that.”

Police can be contacted on 101 or crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

For support please contact the Durham County Credit Union on 0191 375 1677 or online at www.durhamcountycu.co.uk or Darlington Credit Union on http://www.darlingtoncreditunion.co.uk/ or 01325 520005.

Loan sharks can be reported on the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222.

Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003.

E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk.

Private message the illegal money lending team on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

Posted on Tuesday 23rd July 2013
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