News item

Surrey trading standards shortlisted for National Champions Award

Surrey trading standards have been commended for their outstanding work raising awareness of the dangers of loan sharks as category winners of the Stop Loan Sharks Champions awards.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team elected Surrey trading standards as the Local Authorities/Education/Schools category joint winner, for “utilising many different ways of engaging residents in communities of high risk and deprivation including door knocking to get the message out to the most vulnerable. They also worked with over 20 different partner agencies including schools, hospitals, prisons and food banks which led to people being willing to talk about loan sharks. They reached over 12,500 residents with a social media reach of thousands and even put posters at bus stops and in buses.”

The England Illegal Money Lending Team who work in partnership with Trading Standards Authorities across the country, are hosting the third annual Stop Loan Sharks awards to commend those who have a made a real difference in communities by highlighting this crime.

Surrey Trading Standards are now in with a chance of becoming the national winner and receiving £1000 worth of proceeds of crime money to fund further awareness raising, following an online public vote.

To show your support for Surrey Trading Standards vote online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SLSChampions before 7th July 2014. The national winner will be announced later in July. 

Helyn Clack, Surrey County Council's Cabinet Member for Community Services, said: "Loan sharks cause misery to their victims, so it's great that our work to protect Surrey residents from this menace through intelligence gathering and public awareness has been recognised by our colleagues in the Illegal Money Lending Team."

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said “We are pleased to announce that Surrey Trading Standards are one of the finalists in this year’s Stop Loan Sharks Champions awards. The work that they, and other Trading Standards, do to support the Illegal Money Lending Team is crucial to ridding our communities of these criminals.”

There are an estimated 310,000 households in debt to a loan shark.

These criminals usually appear friendly at first but quickly trap their borrowers into spiralling debt. As the debts can’t legally be enforced many lenders will resort to the most extreme and callous methods to enforce repayment including threats, violence and intimidation.

Paperwork is rarely offered so victims are often in the dark as to how much they are actually paying.  Exorbitant extra amounts and interest are added sporadically. In some cases the loan sharks have been known to take items as security including passports, driving licences or even bank or post office cards with the PIN in order to withdraw directly from borrowers’ accounts.

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 Cath Wohlers, LIAISE Manager on 07500 809339 or email Catherine.wohlers@birmingham.gov.uk. To speak to the National Trading Standards Board with a more general enquiry please call 020 7025 7570 or e-mail nationaltradingstandards@grayling.com. 

Notes to editors

The National Trading Standards Board (NTSB) 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. 

NTSB 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 NTSB 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: 10 June 2014