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Men Urged To Speak Out Against Loan Sharks In York.


7:27am 10th June 2013

The England Illegal Money Lending Team are working in partnership with City of York Council as part of a campaign to encourage men to speak out against loan sharks.

A series of events, initiatives and campaigns are being held across the country as part of Men's Health Week (10th-16th June) to directly target men, encouraging them to engage with the England Illegal Money Lending Team and report the crime if they have been affected.

Research shows that whilst the number of men and number of women affected by loan sharks is an almost even split (52% female, 48% Male), men are much less likely to engage and give a statement (witnesses in illegal money lending cases is 64% female, 36% male).

In York the Team will be targeting men through sport. On Thursday 13th June at 7pm the Team will be join boxers at Walmgate Boxing Club (Part of the Jack Raine Foundation) at the Enterprise Complex, the Maltings to offer information and advice. The boxers will be given t-shirts with the 0300 555 2222 hotline number for reporting loan sharks, to wear during training.

The Team are also working with York City in the Community, to engage with the local community during the week. Sessions will be held at Clifton Green School educating young people in the dangers of borrowing money and will culminate with the team attending the York City in Community Annual Junior Club Tournament on the weekend of 15th/16th June. There will be approximately 90 teams from across the region in attendance at the tournament, and accompanying adults will have the chance to find out more about loan sharks.

During the week the Team will work with North Yorkshire Police visiting homes to offer advice to residents. They will also host training sessions for frontline staff at Arc Light and YACRO (York Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders) housing associations, giving them a greater understanding of the dangers in order to support and signpost anyone they meet who has been affected by this crime.

Furthermore on Sunday 16th June the Team will have an information and advice stall at York’s men-only 5k run, ‘R U Taking the P…?’, which raises money for Yorkshire Cancer Research. They will also provide runners with t-shirts. The event begins at 9.30am at Rowntree Park.

The Men’s Health Week Campaign is aimed at breaking down the barriers, which prevent men from engaging. It will use the appropriate language and approach to involve men, encouraging them to take positive action and speak out against illegal money lending. It doesn’t portray those who are affected by loan sharks as victims but shows that they can make a difference in their communities if they do speak out.

There are an estimated 310,000 households across the UK in debt to a loan shark.  Loans sharks typically befriend their borrowers before forcing them to pay back above and beyond what they have borrowed and can afford.

Exorbitant extra amounts and interest payments are added at random, and items including passports, bank cards and driving licences are taken as security on the loans.

As the debts cannot legally be enforced in many cases the loan sharks will resort to threats, violence and other bully tactics.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team are cracking down on this crime, having already secured 235 prosecutions for illegal money lending and related criminal activity, leading to custodial sentences in excess of 157 years. They have written off £40.3 million worth of illegal debts and helped more than 20,000 people affected by loan sharks.

Cllr Linsay Cunningham-Cross, City of York Council’s Cabinet Member for Crime and Stronger Communities, said: “The current economic climate means that more and more people are facing problems with debt. It is important that residents are aware of the dangers of borrowing money from illegal money lenders and that those who are victims of this type of crime come forward to the England Illegal Money Lending Team. We are working hard with the Team and Trading Standards to prosecute those responsible but we do rely on people reporting these crimes. The events are a fantastic way to raise awareness of the dangers of illegal money lenders and encourage more people to come forward."

“The council is working closely with the Citizens Advice Bureau and the South Yorkshire Credit Union to provide positive alternatives for those who are experiencing money troubles and residents can find out more information about these services in their local libraries, the council website or by visiting the CAB at West Offices.”

Tony Quigley Head of the England Illegal Money Lending Team said “Illegal money lending can have a horrific impact on the life and well being of borrowers. People are left penniless and in fear of the loan sharks. We’d urge people not to suffer in silence but to report the crime to us so we can take action. Please call 0300 555 2222. Our lines are open 24/7 and all calls are treated in confidence.”

A spokesperson from the Jack Raine Foundation said “Being a victim of a loan shark is an extremely lonely and frightening place to be. Loan sharks can never be considered an option for getting out of debt. Instead talk to a legitimate debt counselling body. The Jack Raine Foundation and York Boxing Club are happy to support any project that works with victims of this crime.”

Jim Pollard of the Men's Health Forum said 'Illegal money lending may not sound like a health issue but it is - and a serious one. If you don't have a health problem before you see a loan shark you will afterwards. The terrible mental stress and outrageous interest rates have provoked suicides, suicide attempts and heart attacks to say nothing of the more obvious physical dangers that getting involved with loan sharks entails. For sake of your health, and that of those around you, don't do it. If you have money problems talk to Citizen's Advice or a local Credit Union.

To report a loan shark:

Call the 24/7 confidential hotline 0300 555 2222

Text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003


Private message us on www.facebook.com/stoploansharksproject


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