Suspected loan shark arrested in Widnes

A 51-year-old woman has been arrested on suspicion of illegal money lending and money laundering offences following an operation in Widnes.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) working in partnership with officers from Cheshire Constabulary and Halton Borough Council Trading Standards executed a warrant at an address in the Appleton area this morning, Wednesday, March 30.

Officers seized documentation and electronic devices during a search of the property.

The suspect was taken into custody and questioned by specialist officers. She has since been released under investigation pending further enquiries.

Tony Quigley, Head of the Illegal Money Lending Team said: “We are determined to warn residents about the dangers of loan sharks, and we will work with partners to take action against them.

“Loan sharks are criminals that prey on the most vulnerable people in our communities. They trap their victims into spiralling debt and will often use intimidation and violence.

“We will not tolerate these activities in Halton and would urge anyone with information about loan sharks to report them as soon as possible.

“Anyone who needs to borrow money from a safe and responsible lender should contact Halton Credit Union. The website is www.haltoncu.co.uk.”

In a new report published last week, Swimming with Sharks, the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) reveals that there could be up to 1.08 million people in debt to loan sharks in England, with some lenders demanding sexual favours as repayment from borrowers.

Watch out for these warning signs when dealing with loan sharks:

  • Giving you no paperwork or agreement on a loan 
  • Refusing to give you information about the loan 
  • Keeping items until the debt is paid such as your bank card or passport
  • Taking things from you if you don’t pay on time 
  • Adding more interest or charges so the debt never goes down 
  • Using intimidation or violence if you don’t pay

A new stained-glass pixel art installation is helping to raise awareness of the dangers of loan sharks at Norton Priory Museum and Gardens.

The project was a collaboration between Digital Arts Box CIC, the England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT) and Cheshire Constabulary.

Artists worked with youngsters across Runcorn primary schools to create unique pixel artwork to raise awareness about illegal money lending and how to spot the warning signs.

The completed artwork spans nine, floor-to-ceiling, stained glass windows within the atrium of Norton Priory’s main building.

Seven windows feature more than 230 individual pieces of art created by Halton youngsters and professional graphic artists.

Anyone with concerns about illegal money lending can contact the Stop Loan Sharks 24/7 Helpline in confidence on 0300 555 2222.

Alternatively, you can email us at reportaloanshark@stoploansharks.gov.uk or chat with us online at www.stoploansharks.co.uk. Just click on the chat box in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen to get connected to our expert support team.