News item

Tilehurst Guides shortlisted for TSI Hero Award

Tilehurst Guides have been commended for their outstanding work raising awareness of the dangers of loan sharks as category winners of a Stop Loan Sharks Award and are up for a Hero Award at the Trading Standards Institute (TSI) annual conference which starts 30 June.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team elected Tilehurst Guides as the Third Sector Organisation category joint winner, for  “designing a badge that girl guides can earn along with a booklet about savings, banking and safer places you can go to borrow money. The badge is a fantastic idea to promote the Stop Loan Sharks message in a long term and sustainable way. Other girl guide groups across the UK have bought the badge to use within their groups therefore educating more young people and their families about the dangers of loan sharks”.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team who work in partnership with Reading Borough Council and other 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.

Tilehurst Guides 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 Tilehurst Guides vote online at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/SLSChampions before 7th July 2014. The national winner will be announced later in July.

Paul Gittings, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Culture, Sport and Consumer Services, said:

“The Tilehusrt Guides initiative is a local scheme receiving national interest and other girl guides groups are buying into the idea.  There is now an opportunity for people to vote for them to receive well earned recognition for their hard work and raise further awareness of the issue. We will continue to work with the Illegal Money Lending Team to raise awareness amongst the residents of Reading and offer help to those who have been affected by Illegal Money Lending”. 

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team, said “We are thrilled that Tilehurst Guides have been shortlisted for this award. Their enthusiasm and commitment to the Stop Loan Sharks message is fabulous to see”

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: 13 June 2014