Dorset Police have received a highly commended award today (April, 19) as part of the Stop Loan Sharks Team’s National Champions Awards 2016.
The police force were recognised for their successful activities delivered last year across Poole to help raise awareness of the dangers of getting involved with a loan shark.
In spring 2016, officers from the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) were invited in to deliver training to Neighbourhood Police Teams in Poole after Sgt Thompson identified a risk around loan sharking in the costal town. Staff were told the warning signs that might indicate someone is a loan shark victim, and how to support vulnerable members of the community who may have been affected by an illegal money lender.
This training session was later delivered to supervisors and was also featured as part of the patrol Sgt training day, to ensure all patrol officers received and understood the risks factor involved in loan sharking, and what signs to look out for when dealing with potential victims.
At the end of June, police officers from Poole, together with officers from Poole Trading Standards and the IMLT, held a series of community events to get residents talking about loan sharks. During these events, information stalls were set up and a number of promotional materials were distributed amongst the local community. Dorset Police effectively utilised their social media accounts to promote these events and got the message out to online users about the dangers involved when borrowing from loan sharks.
Pictured: Information stands set up Dorset Police in key locations across Poole last June to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks.
Tony Quigley, Head of Service for the England Illegal Money Lending Team said:
“Well done to all our winners and ‘highly commended’ runners up in the National Champions Awards 2016. You have all 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. If you or someone you know has been a victim of a loan shark, we urge you to get in touch with IMLT on 0300 555 2222. You call will be handled by a trained officer and all information will be treated in the strictest confidence.”
Sergeant Adrian Thompson, of Poole Police, said:
“Dorset Police is aware that illegal money lending does take place particularly in this tough financial climate. Loan sharks target vulnerable members of the community and use fear and intimidation to prevent those seeking help. We are determined, with our partners in the IMLT and local Trading Standards, to make our communities safe and deal strongly with loan sharks operating in Dorset. I would urge anyone who has been approached by a loan shark to contact the Illegal Money Lending Team who can offer support and advice, or speak to your local neighbourhood policing team.
“The awareness events we ran in Poole were part of a joint initiative with Trading Standards and we are very proud to be the only police force recognised at this year’s Stop Loan Sharks Champions Awards.”
James Norman, Regulatory Team Manager at Poole Trading Standards, said:
“We know this is hugely unreported in Poole and we are sure there are issues locally. Please come forward and tell us so we can help you and protect vulnerable people.”
Nationally, Illegal Money Lending Teams have secured more than 370 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related activity, leading to nearly 318 years’ worth of custodial sentences. They have written off £71.9 million worth of illegal debt and helped over 26,500 people.
To report a loan shark:
Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222
Text a report to 078600 22116
Visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk
Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject