This week sees officers from Greater Manchester Police team up with the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) to crackdown on loan sharks in the Stockport area.
A targeted campaign will run across GMP and Stop Loan Sharks’ social media platforms to raise awareness of illegal money lending and offer advice to residents on how to recognise the signs that someone might be involved with a loan shark, what to do about it, and where to get help – to prevent people from becoming trapped in a cycle of debt and intimidation.
The number of people in debt to loan sharks is on the rise, with tough economic conditions and rising living costs putting more strain on families. A report published by the Centre for Social Justice estimated that 1.08 million people could be borrowing from an illegal money lender in England – a figure that has more than trebled since 2010.
Inspector Ian Ashenden of the Stockport borough said: “Loan sharks pose a dangerous threat to our communities. They use intimidation to bully people into paying back huge loans, charging exorbitant interest rates, and threatening their victims with violence if they don’t pay.
“Our joint operation with IMLT is aimed at raising awareness of loan sharks operating within the Stockport borough and developing a common understanding of illegal money lending throughout the community.”
Research carried out by the IMLT – a dedicated and highly specialist team of law enforcement officers working across England to combat illegal lending and associated crime – showed that 90% of people who have borrowed from a loan shark live in a constant state of worry, anxiety, and depression, and over a third of victims had even contemplated suicide.
They work with partner agencies and police forces in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting perpetrators of illegal lending, as well as offering specialist advice and support to victims and communities affected by this crime.
Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team, Tony Quigley said: “Loan sharks prey on the most vulnerable people in our society. They make false promises of a quick and easy loan, then demand extortionate levels of repayment once their victims are trapped in a cycle of debt.
“We’re pleased to have teamed up with GMP to raise awareness about the impact of predatory lending and empower communities to act against illegal lenders.
“Loan sharks can be difficult to spot, but by increasing awareness of the signs to look out for and the support that is available to victims, we hope people will be more confident in reporting these unscrupulous lenders to us.”