News item

The National Trading Standards Board announce the Wiltshire Your Choice Winners

Cash confiscated from convicted loan sharks has been awarded to four local projects. The England Illegal Money Lending Team working in partnership with Wiltshire Council launched the Your Choice scheme to give residents a say in how money confiscated from convicted loan sharks is under proceeds of crime legislation is spent. 

Around 130 votes were cast online, with the public choosing Wiltshire Credit Union as the overall winner. They will receive £1000 to create promotional literature promoting themselves as a safe and legal alternative to loan sharks. 

Each of the following projects received £800:

Wiltshire Citizens Advice and Selwood Housing Assocation will use the funding to organise a leaflet drop and an after school event at Studley Community Hall. The event will target parents and children, providing them with information on the dangers of loan sharks. 

Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service will use the funding to hold three events, around the county aimed at older people. The events will provide information on illegal money lending, home safety and accessing local services.

Wiltshire Community Bank: will use the funding to continue to provide the services of three credit unions at a new location in Salisbury. They will receive training from the Illegal Money Lending Team about the dangers of loan sharks and continue to promote the anti loan shark message in the community.

Keith Humphries, cabinet member for public protection at Wiltshire Council said: “I’m delighted these four deserving projects will receive this money to carry out good work which will benefit the local community.”

Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “Through this scheme the extorted cash is being put to excellent use. Thanks to everyone who voted or entered a bid- you have contributed to making a difference and tackling this crime in your community. Loan sharks are a scourge on society and cause harm and misery to their victims, but we are continuing to tackle them in Wiltshire and across the country. We would always urge victims of illegal money lenders to seek help by contacting us in confidence on 0300 555 2222”

Nationally the Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 310 prosecutions leading to nearly 200 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £55 million worth of illegal debt and helped nearly 24,000 victims.

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222 

Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003

E-mail reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk 

Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject

***ENDS***

For more information contact Sarah-Jane Lynch, Illegal Money Lending Team communications officer, on 0121 693 1030 or 07881617119 or email sarah-jayne.lynch@birmingham.gov.uk. To speak to the National Trading Standards Board with a more general enquiry please contact the Trading Standards Institute press office on 0845 6089430 or pressoffice@tsi.org.uk.

Notes to editors

The National Trading Standards Board is a group of senior and experienced local government heads of trading standards, representing all trading standards services across England and Wales. The Board has been set up by the Government as part of changes to the consumer protection landscape and an enhanced role for trading standards. 

The National Trading Standards Board provides leadership influence, support and resources to help combat consumer and business detriment locally, regionally and nationally.

The Stop Loan Sharks Project consists of three Illegal money lending teams in England, Scotland and Wales.  The National Trading Standards Board has responsibility for the England and Wales Illegal Money Lending Teams that are hosted by Birmingham City Council and Cardiff Council. There are separate arrangements in place in Scotland. 

Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 310 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 200 years-worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £55 million worth of illegal debt and helped nearly 24,000 people.

The Illegal Money Lending Teams in England and Wales work in partnership with local Trading Standards Authorities in their related countries. They consist of specialist officers who investigate and prosecute illegal money lending and related activity and LIAISE officers who support victims and raise awareness of the dangers of borrowing from illegal money lenders. 

DATE: 29 April 2014