A NEW crackdown on loan sharks operating in Nottinghamshire has been welcomed by Coun Mick Murphy, a Hucknall Conservative member of the county council.
A specialist team is encouraging anyone who has been a victim of this crime to come forward.
The county council has invited the England Illegal Money-Lending Team to work in partnership with local trading standards officers, bringing illegal money-lenders to justice.
Coun Murphy said: “Loan shark victims often feel helpless and do not realise their loan is from a money-lender who is breaking the law.
“We encourage people not to suffer in silence and we are doing all we can to bring these ruthless people to book.”
The team will investigate loan sharking and any related activity, prosecuting offenders through the courts. In the past, the team has secured convictions for drugs offences, blackmail, violence, rape and other offences linked to illegal money-lending.
It has already secured more than 212 prosecutions, leading to 132 years of prison sentences, written off nearly £40 million worth of illegal debt and helped more than 18,000 victims.
Loan sharks make their victims’ lives a misery. They often trap people into spiralling debt and resort to extreme methods such as violence, threats or intimidation to pressure victims into paying mloney back.
Nationally, an estimated 310,000 households are borrowing from illegal money-lenders. With a lack of paperwork, they keep victims in the dark about how much they owe and will charge astronomically exorbitant interest rates.
An event to mark the launch of the crackdown was attended by staff from various local organisations, including housing providers, credit unions, children’s centres, the Citizens’ Advice Bureaux, police, district councils and JobCentre Plus.
Anyone affected by illegal money-lending can call a confidential helpline on 0300 555 2222.