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Community Safety, Finance and money, Fraud and prosecutions

Crackdown on loan sharks set to be approved

Loan sharks in Lambeth will come under new pressure with the council set sign up to a national agreement to tackle illegal money lenders.

If adopted when the council’s cabinet meets on Monday, the England Illegal Money Lending Team Investigations protocol will apply in the borough until March 2015.

Cllr Jack Hopkins, Lambeth council Cabinet Member for Safer and Stronger Neighbourhoods, said: “Loan sharks often target the most vulnerable people in our community and I welcome our push to tackle the issue.

“With a stagnant economy, these austere times are hard enough without the additional misery of being in debt to illegal loan sharks.

“I urge residents to avoid illegal money lenders at all costs, and once we have signed up to call the hotline number to report any operating in their area.”

Loan sharking is a criminal offence, with extortionate rates of interest on loans that leave some borrowers facing demands for thousands of pounds more than they borrowed.

Borrowers can face intimidation, violence or threats of violence and be forced into prostitution, theft or other criminality.

The council’s work to raise awareness of the new action against illegal money lending will be linked to ongoing efforts to highlight the availability of affordable credit in the borough.

The national illegal money lending team, which is based in Birmingham and funded by the National Trading Standards Board, investigates and prosecutes illegal money lending and related offences.

To report a loan shark people can call the 24 hour confidential hotline on 0300 555 2222 or text “loan shark” with a message to 60003.

The work is being undertaken as part of Lambeth council’s Safer Communities campaign to highlight what we’re doing to make the borough a safer place. The campaign also shows how we are giving people in the borough more control over the council’s work with the police to reduce crime and the fear of crime.

To read the council report visit:

www.lambeth.gov.uk/moderngov/documents/s57063/08%20310513DS%20Illegal%20Money%20Lending%20Team%20Authorisation.pdf.

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