TRADING standards officers backed by police are targeting loan sharks operating in the Bradford area.
The England Illegal Money Lending Team, which consists of trading standards and police officers, has teamed up with West Yorkshire Police to launch a campaign in Bradford to raise awareness of illegal money lenders.
They will focus on Shipley and Bingley and will urge people to report loan sharks.
A series of sessions will give people a greater understanding of the dangers they represent.
The first is on Monday July 15 from 10am to 1pm at Bingley Youth Café, Bingley Pool.
There will be a second on Friday July 19, also from 10am to 1pm, at The Hale (Health Action Local Engagement) Project, first floor Merchants Quay, Shipley.
A separate session will also be held to teach police officers about the dangers of illegal lending in order to signpost and support anyone they meet who has been a victim.
Officers from the Illegal Money Lending Team and local police officers will also be visiting homes in the local area to offer advice to residents.
An estimated 310,000 households across the country are in debt to a loan shark.
In some cases they have been known to take passports, driving licences or even bank or post office cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers’ accounts.
The England Illegal Money Lending Teams are cracking down on this crime, having secured 255 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to 165 years worth of custodial sentences.
They have written off £40.3m worth of illegal debt and helped over 20,000 victims. To report a loan shark call 0300 555 2222.
Tony Quigley, head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said: “Illegal money lending is a despicable crime which causes nothing but harm to our communities.”